5 Ways CRE Will Be Greener by 2025

By Published On: May 5, 20223.5 min read

With global sustainability goals comes a big change to commercial real estate. The building industry accounts for 40% of all carbon emissions. It makes sense that sustainability is a growing area where much change is needed.

Over the next coming years, the commercial real estate industry will continue to shift to become greener. According to a recent environmental report from real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, also known as JLL, industry executives expect major changes to how buildings are built and run by 2025. With new buildings come new protocols — and yes, smart tech. From touchless sensors to carbon neutral goals, here are five ways CRE will be greener by 2025.

1. More Buildings Will Track Energy Consumption

Electricity is one of the largest operating expenses in commercial buildings, making up one-third of expenses in offices, for example. Overall, CRE buildings are responsible for 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Property owners and developers want to know what is being spent where, so it makes sense that there’s a way to track energy consumption. That way energy performance can be improved.

Energy-efficient lighting systems mean lights turn on in common spaces only when people are present. Programs like the Energy Star Target Finder incorporate energy efficiency goals into brand new properties.

2. Smart Tech Will Become the Norm

It’s more than just using your iPhone to open a door. Smart tech is sustainable. Over 80% of new builds involve smart tech, whether its heating, lighting or tracking energy consumption through an app. Future landlords could use UV lighting disinfection protocols by Igor Tech, IoT sensors to control HVAC systems, touchless lighting, bathroom, elevator and doors, and sensors that automatically count people and measure the room temperature based on occupancy.

3. Clean Tech Will Help Hit Net-Zero Targets

Setting a net-zero target is easier said than done. Currently, there’s a massive push for companies to comply with global sustainability commitments, making cleantech a huge role in lowering energy consumption. It’s not just for real estate, but how we use energy overall.

One example of this dynamic is Turntide Technologies’ sustainability plans for buildings, which helps operate properties who want to fast track their way toward net-zero. Their smart tech is profitable, too. It helps save money, optimize devices in a building, use intelligent automation and high-performance tech to help buildings lower their utility bills, increase efficiency, lower maintenance costs and drive sustainability.

“Investment in cleantech infrastructure makes financial sense — it reduces operational costs in the long-term, while a sustainability strategy is now correlated with a forward-thinking, proactive approach. That wins business,” said Kyle Goehring, Executive Vice President, Clean Energy Solutions at JLL.

4. More Green Leadership Roles at CRE Firms

The “ESG Manager” is the latest green role to hit the industry, focusing on a firm’s commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance goals. Recently, there has been a greater demand for compliance, knowledge of new legislations, decarbonization strategies and how to report this for a firm’s annual or quarterly reports.

Tracking a CRE firm’s net-zero or decarbonization goals accurately is no easy feat. That’s why many firms are hiring ESG managers, analysts and leaders to back up a firm’s lofty goals to become greener. For those firms who will not hire a full-time position, they’ll outsource to ESG consultants.

Chairs circle a conference table.

Images provided by Landgut Stober

5. Hotel Conference Rooms are Going Climate-Neutral

The rise of the “green meeting” is in full force in Europe and will likely make its way soon to North America. It makes sense: Why meet to talk about how real estate can become more sustainable, while meeting in a vast, fluorescent-lit convention center with the A/C on full blast?

A number of hotels, like Wartegg Castle in Switzerland, have conference rooms made of natural materials and low-radiation, sustainable seminar technology, with 100% green electricity from the hotel’s nearby river power plant. The same can be said of the Stober Estate, in a small town just 20 km south of Berlin, which is one of the industry leaders for green conference rooms, as the hotel is bio certified. Milan’s Milano Scala is the city’s first carbon-neutral hotel and energy-saving systems, using heat and A/C from water heat pumps.

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