Sustainable Edifications and Built Environment ResilienceBy Pedro Azcue | Wed, 02/02/2022 - 09:13
Climate change has become the foremost problem of our times. From irregular climate patterns that threaten food stability, sufficiency and variety, to the increase in sea level that endangers the largest coastal communities in the world, the impacts of climate change are imminent and will be irreversible if no drastic and coordinated action is taken on a global scale.
The report published in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anticipated that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) should be reduced by almost half within the next 11 years to mitigate climate change’s most serious repercussions. More recently, in the 2021 report, the IPCC once again raised its voice to predict that, if emissions are not drastically reduced, global warming will increase by 1.5°C within the next two decades.
For the real estate sector, this situation is more than a trend: these days, sustainable buildings have become a requirement. We are aware that it is not possible to simply “build” our way out of this problem; it is necessary to work with what already exists. This has enabled us to witness interesting phenomena. A clear example is that the corporate world has never been as green as it is now.
Currently, active real estate listings consume approximately 36 percent of final global energy and are responsible for almost 40 percent of direct and indirect carbon dioxide emissions. It is for this reason that both the real estate sector and companies have an increasingly large commitment to their employees, clients, investors, governments and strategic allies to prioritize sustainability.
The magnitude of the challenge and the urgency with which we need to decarbonize the environment requires the participation of the whole of society as well as the mobilization of resources between multiple stakeholders. During the last year, the way that the real estate industry has undertaken sustainability progressed significantly, bestowing more importance on a building’s sustainability credentials and on the modernization of facilities under zero net emission goals, in addition to completing a large amount of research and studies in search of solutions.
Translating these good intentions into attainable goals requires hard work, alliances and a transformative collective form of thought in line with experts on the subject. Even when the facts reveal that buildings are respectful toward the environment and present a higher rental occupancy and rental retention rates, the initial investment for the planning and the necessary technology to help produce change in the medium and long term tends to generate doubts about their results, as they are so innovative.
However, there are great examples of organizations that have decided to roll up their sleeves and establish firm, science-based objectives in terms of emissions, becoming examples to follow and creating precedent for the industry.
Global warming’s systemic nature requires change at all levels: individual, corporate and national. Stakeholders in all disciplines (financial institutions, government, the private sector) will continue pushing the industry towards positive and sustainable change. Not only will this promote resilience and rentability, it will make a future where human wellbeing and respect towards the environment are not mutually exclusive, a reality.