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National  + Weekender  | 
Fifth Wall Ventures mural Brooklyn Greg Smithies Steffi Lynn Brendan Wallace decarbonizing built environment proptech

Fifth Wall Wants CRE to Walk the Walk on Decarbonization

Venture capital firm Fifth Wall, which focuses on proptech investments, wants to see commercial real estate put its money where its mouth is when it comes to climate change and decarbonizing the industry. The firm’s recently launched Climate Tech Fund has raised more than $140 million toward a $500-million goal, with participation from Equity Residential, Hudson Pacific Properties, Invitation Homes, Ivanhoé Cambridge and Kimco Realty Corporation.  

Los Angeles-based Fifth Wall announced the fund’s progress in connection with Climate Week NYC earlier this month. It also kicked off a global mural campaign to raise awareness about the real estate industry’s culpability in the climate crisis.  

The installations will be placed in major cities to align with key sustainability conferences and events around the world. The campaign started in New York City, timed with ClimateWeek, and will be followed by additional installations in Los Angeles, then in Glasgow, Scotland, aligned with COP26, the UN Climate Change conference. 

“The goal of this campaign is to make people stop and think about the global real estate industry’s impact on the climate crisis and the current state of our planet,” said Brendan Wallace, co-founder and managing partner at Fifth Wall. “We want to inspire entrepreneurial minds to invent climate technologies that can be used in the built environmenr.”   

He continued, “In order to disrupt real estate’s paralysis when it comes to climate, the industry must come together to aggregate capital and resources to make meaningful investments into climate technology. We believe decarbonization is a collective-action problem and therefore requires a collective-action solution.” 

The New York installation was created in collaboration with BBMG, a branding and social impact agency, and local muralist Steffi Lynn. The mural reads “Before we build on other planets, shouldn’t we clean up our own? Choose Earth. Invest in climate tech now.” Located at 11 Franklin St. in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, the goal of the mural is to raise awareness of real estate’s role in the climate crisis. 

Fifth Wall’s Climate Tech Fund is reportedly the first time that real estate industry heavyweights have come together, collectively and cooperatively, to close the significant climate tech funding gap in real estate and dramatically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. The company says its fund will represent the largest pool of capital ever assembled to invest in the technologies to decarbonize the $9-trillion real estate industry, which is responsible for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. 

“Equity Residential was an initial partner of Fifth Wall in its property technology funds, which are generating both strong financial returns as well as innovations in how we operate our portfolio, and we are excited to continue this relationship with our investment in their Climate Tech Fund,” said Mark J. Parrell, Equity Residential’s president and CEO. “We expect this fund to give us early access to emerging ideas, companies and technologies that will help Equity Residential address crucial topics around environmental sustainability and climate resilience in our portfolio.”

Pictured: Muralist Steffi Lynn (center) with Fifth Wall co-founders Greg Smithies and Brendan Wallace.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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