The answers to real estate’s climatic questions could be all around us – TechCrunch

Dave Mullen is an investor at SVB Capital, where he mainly focuses on fintech, proptech and insurtech. Dave was previously an investor at Wells Fargo’s principal investment arm and is currently the vertical proptech lead for the EVCA. More posts from this contributor Fintech founders can learn a lesson about thrift from these industry leaders

If you haven’t seen Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, you definitely should. The film talks about an existential, albeit preemptive, threat to our world, and no one seems to care.

Though allegory, this political piece reflects climate reality for many. For those who do care, there is no lack of confusion about how best to deal with this looming threat.

But what if there was an answer right in front of us? Assume that as much as 40% of global greenhouse gases come from the ‘built world’. Forty percent is quite a figure in the context of what’s at stake. In this case, look up – and to the right and to the left, because the answer could be anywhere.

Front and center will be the estimated 97 billion square feet of commercial real estate. Despite this significant footprint and impact on the climate, a lack of awareness and the slow pace of technology adoption in the real estate sector have hampered action until recently.

Added to this are the misconceptions about the return on investment in climate investment, and frankly, the information overload as the industry gets smarter about carbon neutrality. Fortunately, there is evidence of the ROI of climate technology for buyers and investors alike – evidence that could be crucial to usher the ‘built world’ into an era of carbon neutrality.

Green translates to green

As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. And when it comes to reducing real estate’s climate footprint, the path begins, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), by adopting technologies that enable green certifications, such as LEED and BREEAM.

The JLL report states, among other things, that green certification results in a 6% rental premium for commercial real estate and an 8% sales premium. But recognition of climate change and awareness of the efficacy of climate technologies is just the beginning. Knowing where to start comes with its own challenges.

To unlock this ROI, property owners have implemented a range of cost-effective technologies such as efficient lighting, redesigned cooling and heating systems, and systems to reduce their electricity footprint. After all, to receive LEED certification, buildings must achieve a performance score that combines metrics from several categories, including energy, water, waste, transportation, and quality.

To accommodate, technology has emerged across the value chain of designing, building and adapting parts of the building life cycle to improve metrics for LEED’s target categories. To take advantage of the opportunity, specific considerations come with investments at each point.

Climate technology solutions in the real estate value chain.

Climate technology solutions in the real estate value chain. 1Estimated by Cove.Tool; 2New York Times “New York’s Real Climate Challenge: Restoring the Obsolete Buildings”; 3Department of Energy “Proving the Business case for Building Analytics”. Image credits: SVB Capital.

Design and build

An ideal carbon neutral world could be built from scratch. Proven technologies such as Cove.Tool and Juno Residential are emerging to enable this brave new world of energy efficiency, starting with how buildings are designed and what materials they are built from.

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