The phrase “think globally, act locally” is fully embodied in ULI’s Net Zero Imperative program, a multiyear initiative to accelerate decarbonization in the built environment. Considering that the built environment is responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, we are facing a crisis of massive scale. Although the challenges to decarbonize are similar everywhere, the solutions have nuance—every community is different. Local variables like government politics, sustainability progress, policies in place, and overall economics make a big difference in how the industry can make meaningful change.

To address these challenges, the Net Zero Imperative is acting locally to advance ULI’s mission priority to achieve net zero by 2050. Thanks to a generous donation from Owen Thomas, the Net Zero Imperative began in summer 2021 as a five-year cohort program that sponsors ULI technical assistance panels in localities to help the public and private sectors develop a pathway to decarbonization.

Local champions remain focused on encouraging implementation and follow-through of the resulting recommendations. Participants collaborate in a global cohort that shares best practices and solves problems together. From such local efforts, ULI research staff pull key themes to create global resources that help the wider real estate industry decarbonize.

ULI is leveraging the power of its global network to drive development and investment that supports this path to decarbonization and gets the private sector working hand-in-hand with cities on policy and incentives that can help accelerate investment in decarbonization.

And so far, it’s working. To date, the Net Zero Imperative has funded over a dozen technical assistance panels, ranging in topics from multifamily electrification to net zero new construction incentives, from ClimateTech innovations to tenant engagement for whole-building decarbonization. Localities are eager to move forward and accelerate the built environment’s journey to zero. Learn more at