Members of the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance have continued to make significant progress in reducing carbon emissions while increasing asset value. The Greenprint Center comprises an alliance of the world’s leading real estate owners, investors, and financial institutions that are committed to improving environmental performance across the global market.
Volume 11 of the Greenprint Performance Report™ measures and tracks the performance of 10,190 properties owned by Greenprint members. It finds that over the past year, carbon emissions have dropped by more than 3 percent, energy consumption by almost 3 percent, and water consumption by more than 3 percent. In 2019, Greenprint members invested over US$50.1 million on sustainability projects ranging from tenant engagement to building envelope upgrades and recommissioning, totaling more than 6,000 individual projects.
An economic analysis of Greenprint’s triple-bottom-line impact amounts to over US$687 million (€579 million) since its inception in 2009. This includes financial savings from energy and water use reductions, as well as the environmental value of carbon emissions reductions and the social value of air pollution and water. In total, this represents a reduction of 1.43 million tons of CO2 emissions from Greenprint members’ properties.
“Greenprint represents an essential element in the toolkit for institutional investors to measure progress in reducing the environmental impact of the properties they own,” says Mary Ludgin, incoming chair of ULI’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance and senior managing director and director of global investment research at Heitman. “While COVID-19 has often knocked climate change and climate risk out of the headlines in recent months, Greenprint members have continued to identify best practices that can help us achieve the goal of a net-zero future.”
The report reflects the results of thousands of projects and best practices that Greenprint members have undertaken to lead the industry in reducing their environmental impact. Examples include the following:
Carbon emissions reductions: EPIC, a Hudson Pacific Properties 13-story class A Office complex, installed 310 solar panels on both the east and west sides of the building. The panels alone provide 1.5 percent of the building’s power. Inside the building, Hudson Pacific included lighting controls and energy-efficient plumbing fixtures to ensure that the building reduced carbon emissions by lowering energy demand. Through these features, Hudson Pacific estimates an additional 15 percent energy savings on top of California’s already stringent Title 24 energy codes for new construction.
- Energy efficiency: As part of a strategy to better manage costs and upgrades, AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) pays for heating costs in its Finnish multifamily properties, which minimizes the traditional landlord/resident split incentive. The firm installed temperature sensors and a data- and energy-tracking system throughout a number of units in each property as a proof of concept and pilot project. The system inputs data on the local weather forecast, real-time energy prices, and apartment heating use based on sensors in each unit to provide holistic management of the heating system. The total heating project has an estimated 10-year internal rate of return of 15.1 percent. The project not only produces significant energy and financial savings, but also allows tenants a higher level of thermal comfort.
- Water: Based in Singapore, City Development Limited (CDL) has a strong focus on sustainability, with water conservation being a top priority. As covered in ULI’s report Scorched: Extreme Heat and Real Estate, boosting asset water conservation will be essential to mitigate disruptions that are occurring due to climate change. CDL analyzes and reviews its portfolio annually and installs water-efficient features and fittings, such as flow regulators and self-closing taps, widely across assets. In addition, the company performs annual impact analysis on utility bills to better understand the implications of higher water tariffs. These efforts combine to help the company progress toward its goal of reducing water use intensity by 50 percent from 2007 levels for office and industrial buildings and 9 percent from base-year levels for retail buildings by 2030.
- Waste management: Greenprint members continue to make progress on reducing waste by occupant engagement. Many are looking for new technologies to better understand their waste streams and finding ways to increase diversion from landfills, during both construction and operation. Parkway Properties, a commercial real estate firm with properties across the U.S. Southwest, has continued to focus on waste management programs, helping increase the recycling rate portfolio-wide to 52 percent in 2019, which is bringing the company closer to its goal of 75 percent waste diversion by 2025. Parkway Properties has also instituted a waste-tracking initiative, which has collected a total of 324,860 pounds of “e-waste,” consumer and business electronic equipment that is near or at the end of its useful life. In addition, an annual textile-recycling drive is held for tenants.
This year, Greenprint reported a record portfolio size, with the total number of properties increasing by 12 percent over the past year. The portfolio now includes 2.37 billion square feet (302 million sq m) of office, multifamily, industrial, retail, and hotel properties. The 10,000-plus buildings in the portfolio are located across 32 countries, and Greenprint members hold over US$1.18 trillion (€1.0 trillion) in assets under management (AUM), which is almost 5 percent of the value of high-quality commercial properties globally.
“Now more than ever, sustainability is a clear value driver in real estate, and the Greenprint Performance Report is continuing to make the business case to the industry for advancing green buildings,” says ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter. “As the report notes, ESG [environmental, social, and governance] has come front and center as a cause that our Greenprint members are championing. They continue to lead the way to inspire a broader movement within the real estate sector to improve building performance while bolstering the bottom line.”
Current Greenprint members include Allianz Real Estate; AXA Investment Managers–Real Assets; BlackRock; Boston Properties; Brookfield Properties; California Public Employees’ Retirement System; CenterPoint Properties; Clarion Partners; CommonWealth Partners; Community Developments Limited; Crescent Communities; DWS; FCP; FPA Multifamily; Gerdling Edlen Investment Management; GID; GLL Real Estate Partners; Granite Properties; Heitman; the Howard Hughes Corporation; Hudson Pacific Properties; Jamestown Properties; JBG SMITH; Jones Lang LaSalle; Kilroy Realty Corporation; LaSalle Investment Management; LBA; LendLease Americas; Morgan Creek Ventures LLC; MultiGreen; Neo Property Management Incorporated; Parkway Properties; PGIM Real Estate; Prologis; Rudin Management Company Inc.; Savanna; SL Green; Tishman Speyer; the Tower Companies; UDR; and Zurich Alternative Asset Management.