Sustainability is a hot-button topic these days, and it’s no surprise that it’s influence has seeped into our industry, as a 2019 real estate prediction. It seems story after story is conveying impending doom in the way of more devastating fires, catastrophic storms, severe droughts, and coastlines threatened by rising sea levels—all of which is on pace to hit a cataclysmic inflection point a lot sooner than previously predicted, resulting in terrible atrocities like famine, disease and refugee crises (not to mention economic disaster).

Thankfully, according to the much-anticipated annual real estate trends report from The Urban Land Institute, the real estate industry—one of the earliest collective adopters of eco-friendly business practices—remains one of the environment’s greatest allies, and will continue to place a heavy focus on doing good for the planet in 2019.

“Real estate has been proactive on sustainability issues for many years,” the report pointed out. “As a matter of self-interest as well as social responsibility, the industry is moving ahead to advance its sustainability performance regardless of the direction of national policy.”

What the Sustainability Reports Are Saying  

According to a report recently released by the United Nations, we have an incredibly small window in which to affect the kind of change needed to thwart a worst-case scenario unfolding in the very near future. Twelve years, to be exact. At roughly 700 pages, the report is by no means a short or easy read, but there’s no need to pore over every word (unless, of course, you have time do so) because the most important key takeaway is clear: it’s critical everyone pay attention and take action now.

Every little bit really can help—and on the flipside, even the slightest “miss” of emission targets set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement will make things a lot worse, a lot faster.  As you’re likely aware, the U.S.—the world’s second-largest source of CO2 emissions—famously announced plans to pull out of the aforementioned Paris Climate Agreement almost a year and a half ago, but 194 states and the EU have signed the Agreement as of September 2018.

What the Real Estate Industry is Doing About It

A new article published by the Urban Land Institute offers a summary of a report from the organization’s Greenprint Center for Building Performance, which sheds light on the many ways that the commercial real estate industry in particular is moving ahead at full speed to limit energy consumption, water use, waste disposal, and the most significant culprit driving climate change: carbon emissions, roughly 1/3 of which around the globe are said to come from buildings. Although it certainly sounds bleak, Greenprint has a plan, having set a goal of a 50% emissions reduction by 2030, which is “in line with the goals of the IPCC and ratified by the Paris Climate Accord.” More good news: with regard to energy consumption and carbon emissions, members have posted consistent performance improvements for the last eight years. “The reduction in emissions in 2017 is the equivalent of 1.5 million trees planted, 12,600 cars taken off the road, 6,300 homes consuming no energy, and 136,000 barrels of oil not consumed,” the article states.

Another motivating factor for the industry as a whole to do better—and one that even climate change skeptics can get behind—is the idea that environmentally conscious business practices are “green” in more ways than one. “Nine years in, Greenprint continues to expand its value proposition by working with its members to develop market solutions that will further reduce environment impact and increase asset-level net operating income,” stated Lynn Thurber, a former global chairman of the Urban Land Institute.

Tactics employed by Greenprint’s members, according to the article, include:

  •       Installation of high-efficiency equipment and controls
  •       Waste-reduction projects
  •       Installation of high-efficiency lighting equipment
  •       Reducing water use
  •       Tenant engagement

What Can You Do About It?

No matter where you land on the real estate food chain—from apartment dweller, to prospective homebuyer, to seasoned homeowner, to savvy property investor—there are measures you can take to play a role in mitigating the impending crises the scientific community is urging us not to sleep on. And you may be pleasantly surprised at the extent to which a solid real estate professional can help you explore them.

As has been the case for more than four decades, First Team Real Estate is the first place you should look when you’re in the need of sound real estate advice, and proceeding with your goals in an eco-friendly fashion is an area we’re passionate about as a 2019 real estate prediction. 

Get in touch with a First Team Real Estate agent today, or call 888.236.1943.

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