As real estate developers and investors tinker with the real estate value equation amidst a storm of uncertainty, despair and opportunity, many property professionals are questioning sustainability’s place at the table. Sustainability, broadly defined, is an integral part of the real estate business and always has been — whether or not that is what it has been called. Sustainability’s definition has grown holistically to encompass a broad range of topics including intelligent design, energy efficiency, water conservation, urban regeneration as well as socio-political considerations.
Perhaps the most transcendent of these components is energy efficiency and its related carbon emissions. Commercial real estate, through its construction and use, is responsible for approximately 40 percent of energy consumption worldwide. Cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.