To say we are disappointed with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is an understatement. Climate change is an imminent threat to our long-term survival and the world cannot wait to act on this critical issue. The signal sent from an American withdraw from the Agreement will likely have long-term negative repercussions for our foreign policy.
Despite the lack of federal leadership in this matter, individuals, cities, and communities must remain committed to take action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and limit global carbon emissions. We remain hopeful that the business community, U.S. cities and mayors will step up to uphold our global commitment and responsibilities.
THE NEXUS BETWEEN GLOBAL CARBON EMISSIONS AND THE IMPACT OF U.S. BUILDINGS
Real estate accounts for about 10% of global GDP, but uses 40% of all energy, 25% of water and emits almost one-third of greenhouse gases. The accelerated growth of urbanization in developed countries and emerging markets represents an unprecedented opportunity for more sustainable practices and for buildings. In addition, the Unites States is the second largest polluter and U.S Buildings use more energy then the entire energy consumption of most countries except China. With the U.S. participation, we should be able limit global temperature increase to 1.9 oC but without the U.S global temperatures are estimated to hit 2.3oC which would increase climate risks for the U.S. and the rest of the world. Existing buildings represent 98% of the building stock and U.S. buildings are responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions. Working together to retrofit our existing buildings to be more efficient and help us meet our global climate targets is a critical necessity.
Recent climate change impacts will continue to increase demand for the adoption of sustainability and efficiency initiatives. Investors and tenants are creating a greater push for more energy and water efficiency investments, climate change resilience preparedness, and workplace health safety and productivity. Many buildings and cities are preparing climate change and resilience adaptation policies and programs to address climate change risks, infrastructure needs, and increased resource needs for water, energy, and demographic shifts. Policy and regulation will continue to drive the building industry to address these issues and increase transparency for these topics. Successful leaders must stay in front of these trends and be proactive about what is important for building occupants.
At Verdani, we have seen first-hand the proven business case for green buildings and we will continue to work hard to uphold our mission to empower organizations with cost-effective strategies to create sustainable buildings and communities. Verdani Partners currently supports corporate sustainability programs for seven large real estate portfolios spanning across 2,600 buildings and 320 million square feet of diversified portfolios nationally and internationally.
In 2015 alone, our clients reduced their Scope 1 GHG emissions by more than 14,000 metric tons combined, which is equivalent to removing more than 3,000 cars off the road, planting 300,000 threes or saving 15 million pounds of coal.
As the industry evolves, the demand for efficient buildings is steadily growing. By applying leading corporate responsibility and ESG practices, asset managers are cutting costs by reducing energy and water use and improving their market competitiveness among tenants and investors. With financial, environmental, and social incentives in place, the built environment will continue to transform. Firms that have not yet implemented ESG strategies must do so – or risk being left behind.
We are committed to continue reducing the impact the built environment contributes to climate change. Verdani Partners recently launched a new nonprofit organization called Verdani Institute for the Built Environment (VIBE). VIBE was conceived to expand upon our research, education and collaborative engagement platforms to accelerate our collective impacts for a more resilient and sustainable future on a global scale.
Despite the unfortunate U.S. decision about the Paris Agreement, we remain confident in the U.S.’s ability to lead again on issues related to climate change and sustainability. Verdani Partners is committed to continuing our efforts in greening the built environment, helping clients build their corporate sustainability programs, making large real estate portfolios more efficient, healthy, sustainable and profitable and positively impacting the communities in which our portfolios operate.