Monday, October 1, 2012

Sustainability Trends for 2020 (impacting Corporate Real Estate)

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a research initiative with CoreNet, a global corporate real estate research and networking organization. We met with hundreds of corporate real estate executives to discuss global trends and together made predictions about the year 2020. The initiative, a nine-month study coined CRE 2020 for short, was an incredible experience to discuss and understand more deeply what corporate real estate executives are wrestling with today. There were several research work streams as part of this initiative, and my group's focus was sustainability.

I know there are lots of general sustainable trends out there, but the focus of our work was how sustainability will impact global real estate over the next eight years.  We generated six bold statements about the future that we felt were "realistic." 
  1. Regulatory incentives for resource efficiency and market penalties for resource inefficiency will meaningfully increase by 2020.
  2. Buildings, sometimes connected by micro grids, will be both consumers and producers of energy. The evolutions in energy storage will impact building operations, transportation and planning.
  3. Access to reliable and renewable energy, potable water and waste distribution will influence real estate strategies across all industries.
  4. Technology advances and understanding of sustainability will result in dramatic restructuring of real estate portfolios.
  5. Corporate real estate will take on initiatives to positively change personal behavior and standards surrounding sustainability.
  6. Sustainability experts will play an important integrative role within the organization to meet enterprise-wide targets and goals.
Other findings?
  • More acceptance of sustainability and commitment by organizations to go green despite economic downturn
  • An expansion of initiatives beyond just going green - a company's social impact matters too
  • More sophisticated buyers have raised the bar for sustainable tracking and performance
  • Building energy disclosure is commonplace and driving market behavior
  • Emergence of eco-districts and micro-grids allow for transformative greening of cities and regions 
  • The Living Building Challenge impacts materials used for all building products
  • Smart buildings reduce energy through "presence" tracking and smarter design and construction practices
  • Energy storage getting better and more sophisticated (fuel cells, etc.)
  • Buildings and manufacturing facilities are choosing to locate by renewable energy and potable water sources
  • Engagement of occupants will have an impact on energy, waste, water reduction
  • Real estate executives will need to provide more sophisticated tracking of current practices and a real vision on how to support more sustainable business practices

For more information go here:
The outputs of our research include a series of detailed white papers (available on CoreNet’s website and available to their members)
A nice synopsis of the work was written up in CoreNet’s most recent issue of “The Leader” here

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