Pressure Increasing to Decarbonize Buildings

Sustainability and carbon reduction are quickly shifting from voluntary endeavors to mandatory ones. For building owners and managers, it will be one of the greatest driving forces influencing building compliance over the next several decades as policy makers and regulators continue to increase their focus (and demand) to achieve sustainability targets and mitigate climate change. Soon, sustainability improvements will no longer be optional, and carbon neutral targets will have to be met. In many cities and counties around the country, including New York, Washington DC, Denver, and Boston, this is already a reality. In 2021, Chicago convened a Building Decarbonization Working Group and has been following the path forged by New York for many years. It is highly likely that within the next couple years Chicago will have a similar Decarbonization ordinance and, therefore, it is critical that owners are proactive to avoid potential fees and/or reduced property value.

Construction of new sustainable buildings is relatively common and straightforward. However, bringing existing buildings up to modern standards is significantly more difficult which of course, also means at a much higher expense. In short, moving existing buildings towards sustainability is a balancing act among time, capital, and technology and to successfully balance these constraints, it is critical to prioritize the retrofit and upgrade process. On the other hand, buildings and owners will benefit greatly from reduced energy costs and many buildings will be able to meet carbon reduction compliance metrics by implementing measures with attractive paybacks.

To this end, every building owner should be thinking about or have already completed an energy audit to determine the most cost-effective path to compliance and to benchmark current performance. Building portfolio managers should consider benchmarking their properties to focus efforts on the poorest performers first. Building owners should turn to an experienced MEP consulting firm to provide this highly beneficial energy audit and prioritization plan.

Because audits, upgrades, and renovations will likely not remain optional forever, incentives for early adopters will likely eventually give way to penalties for late adopters. Proactive owners will enjoy numerous benefits, including time for decision making and increased property values. As with any significant market shift, the initial challenges presented also represent a substantial opportunity.

For more information, please read through the following article: The Real Estate Industry’s Role in Decarbonizing Our Buildings