WASHINGTON D.C. (November 3, 2021) – The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected eight global cities to participate in the first year of a multi-year initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environmental performance of the real estate industry around the globe. Launched in July 2021, the Net Zero Imperative (NZI) is part of ULI’s focus on decarbonization as one of its global priorities – the Institute aims to eliminate carbon emissions from the built environment to reach net zero by providing ideas and strategies to real estate owners, public sector leaders, and the general public. The program is rapidly underway and designed to meet the climate crisis with extreme urgency by tackling some of the unique challenges local communities face.
Each year, ULI’s network of District Councils and National Councils around the world have the opportunity to submit a statement of interest to the Net Zero Imperative program for a city/sponsor in their area to benefit from a two-day technical panel at no additional cost to them, specifically regarding overcoming challenges the real estate sector is facing to achieve net zero locally.
“Thanks to the generosity of financial contributions received from ULI members through the ULI Foundation, we are able to offer complimentary technical assistance and ongoing support to a selection of cities around the world to help them reach net zero,” said Marta Schantz, senior vice president of the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance. “There is an urgent need for the real estate industry to decarbonize, and we look forward to working with the public and private sector leaders in the cities that have been chosen as part of a competitive process in our first round of applications.”
The eight participants that make up the Year One Cohort of the Net Zero Imperative are:
- Austin, Texas:ULI Austin will increase the local real estate sector’s awareness and buy-in of electrification, energy efficiency, and on-site renewable energy in commercial and multifamily buildings, in line with net zero initiatives in the City’s Climate Equity Plan. This will result in actionable recommendations for potential incentives, education, or code amendments to achieve energy-efficient, net zero carbon buildings.
- Beijing, Mainland China: ULI Beijing will develop a roadmap to net zero economic, environmental and social development in China. It will explore deep energy efficiency by piloting solutions in a Beijing mixed-use site to build upon current sustainability efforts to reduce operational costs and increase economic savings. The aim will be to further address climate via adaptation planning with nature-based stormwater management solutions in a trial district that could scale country-wide.
- Brampton and Greater Toronto, Ontario:ULI Toronto will build upon existing ULI efforts to support the city of Toronto in encouraging retrofits of aging privately owned multifamily rental towers to reduce their carbon emissions and be resilient to climate risks while maintaining affordability. It will develop a long-term communication campaign to accelerate the decarbonization of the multifamily towers in line with the city’s new net zero existing building strategy.
- Kansas City Region, Kansas: ULI Kansas City will advocate for a net zero economy by (1) identifying best practices for a regional Energy Efficiency Investment Fund to provide lending tools for the real estate sector to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and (2) maximizing community impact through building decarbonization improvements to achieve high-performance affordable housing that address the energy burden in low-to-medium income markets.
- Los Angeles, California: ULI Los Angeles will identify both technical and market strategies to decarbonize the Bunker Hill neighborhood with a district energy system across assets with multiple private owners. This will serve as a scalable and replicable roadmap for cross-sector collaboration to harness the power of energy efficiency and grid integration on a community-level scale.
- Root District, Minneapolis, Minnesota:ULI Minnesota will develop a framework for policymaking and development strategies to evaluate climate impacts and drive net zero in the equitable redevelopment of a 115-acre district. It will promote district energy, set clear and measurable targets on net zero, and develop a plan that can scale for infrastructure, master planning, and individual developments of similar types.
- San Jose, California:ULI San Francisco will build upon existing ULI efforts to bring the public and private sector together to unlock the benefits of building electrification and the integration of renewable energy generation and storage in both market rate multifamily and affordable housing assets to meet decarbonization goals, increase the financial viability of projects, and improve social equity outcomes.
- Shenzhen and Greater Bay Area, Mainland China: ULI Shenzhen will explore how the city can incentivize the private sector to integrate new and innovative technology into both new and existing buildings, to decarbonize while still sustaining profitability. It will be used as a demonstration city to showcase to the Greater Bay Area how advancing community change can influence positive outcomes toward a lower carbon city.
Stakeholders in the above cities will become part of a global network and receive resources from ULI including two-day technical assistance panels, long-term on-the-ground campaigns, and toolkits and best practices to help their “roadmap to decarbonization.” To view a recording of the Year One Cohort announcement webinar, visit ULI’s Knowledge Finder platform. ULI members interested in participating as an expert panelist in upcoming NZI panels can find more information on ULI’s Navigator platform. Year two cohort applications open May 1, 2022 and close July 4, 2022. For more information, visit uli.org/netzeroimperative.
The Net Zero Imperative is a key element of ULI’s global mission priority to decarbonize the real estate sector and accelerate progress to net zero, as the real estate industry confronts the challenge posed by climate change and seeks to achieve the objective of net zero carbon. Other initiatives already contributing to this effort include the ULI Greenprint Center (formed in 2009), a worldwide alliance of more than 60 leading real estate owners and financial institutions with $1.3 trillion in assets under management, that has been committed to improving the environmental performance of buildings by sharing best practices and performance data. In addition, a new project, Fast-track to Decarbonisation, aims to support the industry across Europe to speed up and scale up the decarbonization process by analyzing and consolidating the real estate industry’s approach to net zero, assessing progress and the impact of industry frameworks, as well as identifying urgent gaps and barriers that need to be bridged.
About the Net Zero Imperative
- The Net Zero Imperative is a 5-year program started in July 2021 that aims to accelerate the decarbonization of the built environment and chart a cost-effective path to zero for the real estate industry. By leveraging the power of ULI’s global network, the program will strive to drive development and investment that supports this path to decarbonization as well as get the private sector working hand-in-hand with cities on policy and incentives that can help accelerate investment in decarbonization.
- For more information, visit uli.org/netzeroimperative.
About the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance
- The ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance is a research center focused on climate mitigation, making the business case for green buildings by tying carbon reductions to increased asset value. ULI Greenprint also includes a worldwide membership alliance of leading real estate owners and developers committed to improving the environmental performance of the global real estate industry, striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to achieve net zero carbon operations by 2050. ULI Greenprint is organized within the ULI Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance, which also oversees ULI’s Urban Resilience Program and the Building Healthy Places initiative.
- For additional information, visit uli.org/greenprint.
About the Urban Land Institute
- The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 45,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.
- For more information on ULI, please visit uli.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.