Around the globe, individuals, organizations, and governments come together each year to celebrate and acknowledge Earth Day. Since its first observation in 1970, Earth Day has served as an annual reminder of the environmental challenges the world faces while inspiring solutions and positive change.
The theme of this year’s event is “investing in our planet,” which resonates with the work of ULI and its members to address environmental issues through the Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate.
In addition to providing thought leadership and best practices, the Center highlights the strong business case for sustainable real estate. Decades of research and case studies have shown that sustainable projects add value to the bottom line, reduce operating costs, and meet demand from investors, tenants, governments, and other key stakeholders who are willing to pay a green premium for sustainable spaces.
In celebration of Earth Day 2023, we highlight several members of the Lewis Center Advisory Board who are investing in our planet through sustainable real estate. Their strategies include incorporating nature-based solutions in development projects, paving the way to decarbonization, driving social impact investing, and embedding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria in development projects.
All their approaches highlight the urgency to invest in our planet and ensure healthy, equitable, and sustainable cities for generations to come.
Brian Swett, Principal, Americas East Leader, Arup
Chair of the Advisory Board, ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate
“For me, the theme of ‘investing in our planet’ speaks to Arup’s priority on bringing nature-based solutions to life in both decarbonizing our built environment and increasing humanity’s resilience to climate change. Shifting our mindset from an extractive relationship with nature to an investment relationship opens up tremendous opportunities for sustainability and regenerative growth that supports people and the planet simultaneously.”
Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO, Gensler
“We are on target to ensure that all of the projects Gensler designs are net zero by 2030. This isn’t just our goal; we are responding to the needs of our clients and their tenants. We are focused on lowering carbon operations using the most advanced systems, addressing embodied carbon by tracking and decarbonizing all of the materials that we use on projects. We are committed to measuring Gensler’s own carbon emissions in accordance with Greenhouse Gas Protocol standards for Scopes 1, 2, and 3. We are working across the firm to analyze the greenhouse gas output for our entire leased portfolio to reduce energy use in all our offices.”
Brian Allan (AJ) Jackson, Executive Vice President, Social Impact Investing, JBG SMITH
“We’re entering a period where investments that have underwritten their impacts on the planet and society are positioned to deliver greater long-term value. This year’s theme highlights the opportunities for those who are Intentional about where and how they build, invest, and allocate capital to capture the ‘resiliency alpha’ generated by the realities of climate and demographic change.”
Mary Ludgin, Managing Director – Head of Global Research, Heitman LLC
“At the time of the first Earth Day, we celebrated the wonders of the Earth. Now, that’s not sufficient. We need to invest in the Earth, to heal what can be healed, to forestall additional damage, and to embrace a sustainable future.”
Daniel Chang, European Head of ESG, Hines
“Earth Day has been observed globally for over 50 years to demonstrate support for environmental protection and it’s a key calendar event to unite people to promote awareness about climate change and protecting our planet. At Hines, as stewards of the built environment, we want to effect meaningful positive long-term change which means firmly embedding ESG criteria into each and every real estate project we undertake. Whether it’s investing, developing or managing real estate, we strive daily to integrate ESG goals into the various roles and responsibilities across our firm, so we can collectively be most effective in delivering environmental and social value. The urgency to transition toward a net zero economy is unabating so we all must collectively act now.”
Although Earth Day is only celebrated one day a year, ULI and its members are working every day to promote a sustainable future that benefits people and the planet.
Visit uli.org/sustainability for opportunities to get involved and receive updates on ULI’s sustainability work, and check out earthday.org for a compiled list of 52 actions to support Earth Day today and beyond.