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CEOs pledge to adopt World Economic Forum’s Green Building Principles, cut real-estate emissions in half by 2030.

Jan. 24, 2023
The executives, from real estate and other industries, also pledge to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.

The World Economic Forum recently announced that several CEOs of widely recognized companies—including real estate firms—pledged to reduce their real estate emissions by 50% by 2030, and to reach net-zero carbon no later than 2050.

“With buildings contributing 38% of all energy-related greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions, leaders across all industries have a critical role to play in lowering their global real estate emissions,” the WEF said on January 12 when the pledges were made.

“While real estate represents nearly 40% of all energy-related GHG emissions, the sector is frequently an afterthought when it comes to an organization’s decarbonization and sustainability strategies,” commented Matthew Blake, the WEF’s head of financial and monetary systems. “Leaders across all industries have a responsibility to take action on their real estate GHG emissions to ensure progress in their fight against climate change.”

The WEF noted the following companies had made the pledge.

The WEF added that these companies will implement the Forum’s Green Building Principles to meet their carbon-reduction goals.

“Released last year, the Green Building Principles: The Action Plan for Net-Zero Carbon Buildings provides a clear sequence of steps to deliver net-zero carbon real estate portfolios,” according to the WEF. The WEF collaborated with JLL, the World Green Building Council, and the WEF’s real estate community to develop the principles.

Here are the 10 steps.

  1. Calculate a robust carbon footprint of your portfolio in the most representative year to inform targets.
  2. Set a target year for achieving net-zero carbon, by 2050 at the latest, and an interim target for reducing at least 50% of these emissions by 2030.
  3. Measure and record embodied carbon of new developments and major refurbishments.
  4. Maximize emissions reductions for all new developments and major refurbishments in the pipeline to ensure delivery of net-zero carbon (operational and embodied) by selected final target year.
  5. Drive energy optimization across both existing assets and new developments
  6. Maximize supply of on-site renewable energy
  7. Ensure 100% of off-site energy is procured from renewable-backed sources, where available.
  8. Engage with stakeholders with whom you have influence in your value chain to reduce scope 3 emissions
  9. Compensate for any residual emissions by purchasing high-quality carbon offsets
  10. Engage with stakeholders to identify joint endeavors and equitably share costs and benefits of interventions.

Executives from companies making the pledge commented on their motivations for doing so.

“It’s imperative that we address real estate related emissions,” said Christian Ulbrich, global CEO and president of JLL. “Getting started is often the hardest part and the principles offer a simple set of steps to do so. We believe it is easier to get to net zero in the built environment than for many companies to get to net zero in their core businesses, and the business case is there to support action.”

“We have the innovation to both transform the current building stock through electrification and digitalization and develop smart, green buildings of the future,” said Philippe Delorme, Schneider Electric’s executive vice president, European operations. “Schneider Electric is proud to adopt the principles and demonstrate how we can transition buildings to be healthier, more efficient and ultimately net-zero carbon.”

MKO Balogun, group CEO of GPFI Group, added, “As a facility management company, we play a major role in the drive for adoption and implementation of emission reduction programs. Our role working with occupiers, owners, and developers of real estate gives us the leverage to drive that commitment, and we are glad to be joining other global leaders on this journey.”

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