The market has evolved, and buildings account for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. ULI Greenprint is working to meaningfully reduce the built environment’s impact on climate change: net zero.
The ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance includes a worldwide alliance of leading real estate owners, investors, and strategic partners committed to improving the environmental performance of the global real estate industry. Through measurement, benchmarking, knowledge sharing, and implementation of best practices, Greenprint and its members strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to achieve net zero carbon operations by 2050.
50% by 2030
Greenprint members have found that reducing carbon and driving energy efficiency in their real estate portfolios makes good business sense. Over the past 10 years Greenprint members have improved energy intensity and reduced greenhouse gas intensity by over 34% and are on track to meet this goal.
Net Zero by 2050 Goal
The ULI Greenprint goal is to reduce the operational carbon emissions of its members’ collective buildings to net zero by the year 2050. This new net zero carbon goal is designed to meaningfully reduce the built environment’s impact on climate change beyond existing efforts.
Greenprint recognized the opportunity for real estate members to raise the bar with a long-term net zero carbon goal, while continuing to show how these changes can continually add value to their properties. The goal is in line with the Paris Agreement and findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to limit global warming to 1.5⁰ C.
Greenprint Members Aligned with the Net Zero Goal
In October 2020, Greenprint set the additional collective member-voluntary goal of Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2050. The new goal was announced widely during ULI’s Virtual Fall Meeting on Oct 13th 2020 in partnership with 11 Greenprint members committed to align with the goal at that time:
- City Developments Limited
- CommonWealth Partners
- Heitman (2030)
- Hudson Pacific Properties (2025) *
- Jamestown LP
- Kilroy Realty Corporation (2020) *
- LaSalle Investment Management
- NEO Property Management Incorporated *
- Nuveen Real Estate
- The Tower Companies *
* indicates organization has already achieved the goal and (year) indicates an organization has an earlier timeline than 2050
Interested in Aligning with the Greenprint Goals?
The next opportunity for Greenprint real estate members to align with the Net Zero Goal is during ULI’s Virtual Spring Meeting the week of May 10th. We will include a press release, a website update, social media posts, and an UrbanLand online article with the news.
Real estate firms can align their portfolio with the ULI Greenprint net zero goal via email with written confirmation of the commitment by Friday April 2nd. This goal sets a minimum, and real estate firms are welcome to set more aggressive targets and timelines as part of their alignment; we welcome firms to support the ULI Greenprint Net Zero Goal in addition to alignment with other organizations’ net zero goals as well. Firms must include their whole portfolio, not just including select funds or regions. Companies must be ULI Greenprint real estate members to be eligible to align with the goal.
Defining Net Zero for Real Estate
For the real estate sector, “net zero” brings challenges when owners only have so much control over their properties’ energy usage and carbon emissions. Greenprint follows the World Green Building Council definition of net zero, which is a building portfolio that is highly efficient and fully powered by on-site and off-site renewable energy sources.
The baseline net zero goal is based on CDP scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, and direct operational control excluding occupant operations. Members can choose to go beyond scope 1 and 2 to include occupant operations. Guidance on how to define operational control and boundaries for an emissions inventory can be found in the WRI/WBCSD greenhouse gas protocol (“The GHG protocol”).
ULI Greenprint will measure members’ progress toward these goals by tracking their collective improvements in energy efficiency, purchase of green utility power, and increased investment in on- and off-site renewable energy and offsets. Collective progress will be published in the ULI Greenprint Performance Report each year to publicly showcase advancements towards both goals. Greenprint encourages members to share their pathway to net zero carbon, as well as their own interim targets.
Roadmap to Portfolio-Wide Net Zero
Over time, Greenprint will help members navigate key steps on their journey to net zero by providing guidance, tools, and training to help members make progress towards these goals. The roadmap starts with energy efficiency as the most cost-effective solution for carbon reductions, moving on to onsite renewables, green power through the utility grid coupled with building electrification, and balancing the remaining emissions with offsite renewables, renewable energy credits (RECs), and offsets. Further strategies can include engaging tenants to reduce their emissions and exploring embodied carbon reductions in building materials.
What are Greenprint Members saying about this?
“As a sustainability pioneer and green building champion, CDL has remained steadfast in mitigating climate risks and reducing our carbon emissions. Complementing our firm commitment to green buildings, we started using solar energy at selected residential and commercial developments since the early 2000s and became the first Singapore developer to carbon neutralise our headquarter operations since 2009.
CDL’s climate and low-carbon strategies and programmes have been designed to support the global race to net zero and contribute to Singapore’s goal to achieve net zero emissions ‘as soon as viable’ in the second half of the century. In 2018, CDL became the first Singapore real estate company to successfully set carbon reduction targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). In September 2019, CDL furthered its commitment to the global climate action by joining the pioneer batch of 87 companies worldwide to pledge support to UNGC’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign.
As the world navigates the new normal, sustainability, energy efficiency and the reduction of our carbon footprint will remain our top priorities in the way we design, build and manage our assets and engage a larger ecosystem of stakeholders. Committed to embracing innovative technologies and solutions that reduce environmental impact, CDL is proud to support ULI Greenprint’s Net-Zero Carbon by 2050 announcement for a low-carbon future.” Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer, City Developments Limited
“CommonWealth Partners is proud to have achieved our goal to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% three years ahead of schedule. We have set our Science-Based Target goals to 50% reduction of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030. To further our emissions reduction commitment, we have set a new, ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.” Travis Addison, Principal, CommonWealth Partners
“Achieving net zero carbon operations by 2030 is an important undertaking and will complement our asset- and market-level climate risk assessment of investments.” Laura Craft, Head of Global ESG Strategy, Heitman
“Hudson Pacific is committed to leadership in sustainability and we are proud to have achieved carbon neutrality across all operations earlier this year. We applaud ULI Greenprint and our peers who have joined the pledge to reach net zero carbon by 2050. We know that the real estate industry as a whole must come together to have a meaningful impact on climate change and this pledge represents an important step forward.” Natalie Teear, VP Sustainability and Social Impact, Hudson Pacific Properties
“Through Jamestown Green and the Jamestown Charitable Foundation, we focus on efforts that reduce our impact on the environment, and support the larger communities where we operate. After achieving our goal to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, we’re now aiming higher and committing to achieve net zero operational carbon by 2050.” Matt Bronfman, Chief Executive Officer, Jamestown L.P.
“We applaud ULI Greenprint for creating a Net Zero Carbon operations goal for the building community, which gives us additional momentum as we work towards achieving our own Net Zero Carbon operations goal at the end of 2020.” Sara Neff, SVP Sustainability, Kilroy Realty Corporation
“At LaSalle we’re committed to doing right by our investors, our people and our planet. When we invest in environmental, social and governance best practices, we are enhancing the performance of our clients’ investments. That is why we are excited to work with the ULI Greenprint team on net zero carbon ambitions and commit to this industry goal.” Jeff Jacobson, Global CEO, LaSalle Investment Management
“The severity of our current climate crisis requires a commensurate response and commitment from real estate owners, developers, and managers: NET ZERO. This is a difficult and ambitious commitment for NEO, as we are a real estate company based in an emerging market. However, we firmly believe that we can and must play our part in this global collective effort. We encourage all other real estate firms to heed the call and join us in this fight.” Raymond Rufino, Chief Executive Officer, NEO Property Management Incorporated
“Nuveen Real Estate is proud to commit to delivering net zero carbon buildings. This is a necessary step for the industry in order to tackle the climate crisis and it builds on our existing commitment to a 30% reduction in energy intensity by 2030 across our portfolio. This will deliver outperformance for our clients as net zero carbon buildings will be protected from obsolescence and will remain relevant in tomorrow’s world. We call on our peers and the wider real estate industry to also step up to this challenge.” Chris McGibbon, Global Head of Real Estate and Head of the Americas, Nuveen Real Estate
“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time – and inaction is simply no longer an option. Real estate organizations can serve as a catalyst for real change, benefitting the planet and business, and we are pleased to join other leaders to fight the global climate crisis together. Aligning with ULI Greenprint and The Paris Agreement supports our long-time commitment to carbon neutrality and pushes us to go further.” Jeffrey Abramson, Partner at The Tower Companies
Additional Nuances important to clarify for the real estate sector:
Operational Boundaries: Based on GHG reporting frameworks, Greenprint members at minimum include all energy consumption and fuel use under their operational control. Where tenants/residents are in control of their own meter, those scope 3 emissions do not fall under the Greenprint net zero goal. Greenprint members can choose to define and report out on their own goals beyond scope 1 and 2 emissions under operational control.
Acquisitions and Dispositions: New buildings have 24 months before they are included in the portfolio’s net zero commitment. Sold buildings are part of a Greenprint members’ net zero goal through the sale date.
Achieving an absolute net zero goal with a growing real estate portfolio: While Greenprint’s efficiency goal is an intensity goal (50% reduction from a 2009 baseline), the new net zero goal by definition is an absolute goal (net zero). No matter the changes in portfolio size over time, Greenprint members are expected to bring their portfolio to net zero by 2050.
Greening of the Utility Grid: Utility-provided power may transition to 100% carbon free by 2050, especially in progressive cities. This is expedited by encouraging energy efficiency in buildings to align with industry-standard energy intensities.