Climate Reality: Is Your Organization Prepared for the Effects of Climate Change?

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Contributor Carey Guerin-Oliver, VP of Learning and Development for JLL’s Energy & Sustainability Services group, discusses the importance of preparing your business for extreme weather. 

Sitting in the second row of tables at the latest Climate Reality Leadership training in Toronto, I was surprised.

As a sustainability professional in the real estate sector for the last 5 years, I am aware of the increasing number of extreme weather events, in large part due to climate change. However, as presenter Al Gore reviewed the most recent data, I was surprised by the sheer number of extreme weather events occurring globally. While the total number of insured losses were down in 2014 (from $44 billion USD in 2013 to $35 billion USD in 2014), the overall trend is still increasing.

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Swiss Re and Munich Re (both global reinsurance entities) show events driven by wind and water are increasing. This year is the largest year in Canadian history of natural catastrophe losses.

From a building operations point of view, when was your last tabletop exercise for disaster preparedness? Have you run a flooding scenario recently? What would you do if air quality becomes an issue from wildfires? If you are in an urban area, you are not immune. In July, smoke from wildfires in Canada created air quality issues in the US as far south as Colorado. Have you gone the extra step to engage your local authorities and key emergency personnel to ensure your building and its occupants will be taken care of when (not if) a natural catastrophe occurs?

At the training, Al Gore also shared a touching story of firefighters in Australia. The firefighters began to ask in-depth questions about the fires they were fighting. The fires were different lately, more intense, and they wanted to understand why. Similar comments have been made by firefighters in the US as well. After learning more about climate change and its effect on wild fires, they stated that they were first responders to fires and now they also consider themselves first responders to climate change.

The real estate industry is on the front line of the effects of climate change. Extreme weather events are becoming more common. Are you prepared?

 

GuerinCarey Guerin-Oliver is VP of Learning and Development for JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services group. In this role, Guerin-Oliver manages JLL’s Sustainability University program to help educate employees on sustainability through monthly webinars and the promotion of LEED accreditation across the globe. Guerin-Oliver is a LEED Accredited Professional. 

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