Buildings and Climate Change Mitigation: Mutually Beneficial
Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate developers, owners and managers understood the value of “healthy buildings.” With the advent of the pandemic, buildings with “wellness” features could upgrade to higher-efficiency air filters, offer outdoor spaces and courtyards and provide an overall safe environment for tenants.
According to the Urban Land Institute, COVID-19 is just the beginning of upcoming challenges. In its recently released “Greening Buildings for Healthier People” report, the ULI pointed out that “developers, owners and operators will have to confront climate impacts, the rise of chronic disease, and the long-term effects of the pandemic . . .” As buildings are responsible for 40% of worldwide C02 emissions, their owners, developers and managers will need to take steps to mitigate some of these effects.
The report links climate change with health strategies, while offering suggestions and strategies to both improve health while taking climate change into account. Some of the strategies include the following:
Using less carbon-intensive materials for building, and using materials that are mold-resistant and that can withstand natural disasters
Developing on transit-oriented development sites, and incorporating natural light and green stormwater infrastructure
Incorporating “green” leases that include health considerations and socially responsible practices
Incorporating electrification, which switches power sources from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy
The ULI noted that the reason for the report was to help educate real estate professionals about actions needed to help mitigate climate change, while maximizing occupier and tenant health. Both health and sustainability opportunities are in place throughout a real estate development lifecycle, the report’s authors point out, adding that with proper action, “real estate professionals can overcome barriers to implementing climate mitigation, resilience and health measures at the same time.” This, in turn, will help both occupiers and the planet survive and thrive.
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