Author Archives: JLL

Outcomes of COP23 Global Climate Summit

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Against a backdrop of newly rising greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, the world’s nations met in Bonn, Germany in November for the 23rd annual “conference of parties” (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

After the landmark Paris Climate Agreement two years ago, this year’s summit agenda focused on process-oriented negotiation points. The Agreement’s signatories now need to define how to implement the target of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

These detailed processes will be written down in the so-called Rulebook, an operational handbook that defines technical and administrative tasks. Examples include how countries set and transparently report on their carbon reduction pledges and how they track their climate adaptation efforts.

In contrast to some of the previous summits, preparatory work in the run-up to the Bonn conference had not yielded more than a few “informal notes” that served as starting points for the negotiations. In the end, however, there have been some achievements:… Read More

Sustainability as disruptive innovation

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Disruptive innovation means applying a new vision and direction, which results in overtaking an existing market. Being green in a transparent way has become one of the most highly sought-after disruptive innovative forces. As a result, organizations compete to have the latest green technologies, facilities and products in their industry.

A classic case study of a sustainable disruptive technology is Interface Inc. A billion-dollar corporation, Interface is the world’s largest producer of modular floor coverings, and one of the first large companies to integrate sustainability in all of its operations. Interface credits its leading position to its vision:

‘To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.’

Every aspect of Interface operations is focused on this vision — from harvesting and recycling old carpets to workplace energy efficiencies such as lighting and equipment replacement, renewable energy, efficient distribution, and employee-led programs aimed at eliminating waste. Interface also reduces the environmental footprint of its physical locations by adopting best-in-class green building and operational standards. As a result, Interface has reduced its carbon footprint by 92 percent, and has reduced waste to landfill by 91 percent since 1996.Read More

Better design thinking to battle floods

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While the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey grabbed international attention, other U.S. cities began to feel the pangs of nervousness as many of them are becoming more vulnerable to fiercer storms. In fact, New York City is already reviewing its plans for a massive rainstorm as the existing infrastructure cannot handle more than 1.75 inches of rainfall per hour.

High and fast water rising in Bayou River with downtown Houston in background under cloud blue sky. Heavy rains from Hurricane Harvey caused many flooded areas in greater Houston area.

In the U.S., the National Climate Assessment has observed above-average rainfall since 1991 with the greatest increase in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains regions, which have seen a rise of over 30 percent compared to pre-1960 levels.

Going by recent reports, floods cause greater property damage and more deaths than tornadoes or hurricanes. And Houston’s flood was truly a disaster of proportions: the sky unloaded nine trillion gallons of water on the city within two days!

With cities continuing to grow upwards and outwards, the effects of heavy rainfall been compounded. “The more impermeable surfaces you have, the more you obstruct natural runoff,” says Franz Jenowein, JLL’s Director of Global Sustainability Research. “This translates to greater potential for excess water to negatively affect cities.”

It is equally a design problem as much as it is climate change. In the face of such natural calamities, better urban planning and city design can come to the rescue.

Build to suit?

Urbanization has been blamed for many modern day environmental disasters. However, there can be an exception. “Urbanization can be a problem—but it can also offer solutions,” says Jenowein, citing Singapore as a case in point.… Read More

Measuring the value of sustainable real estate investment

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While the current U.S. federal administration may be downplaying the benefits of sustainability, a new international study finds evidence that publicly-traded green real estate is more profitable to investors than non-green.

The award-winning study entitled “Decomposing the Value Effects of Sustainable Real Estate Investment: International Evidence” measured the impact of sustainable investment on the value and performance of listed real estate investment firms (REITs) by comparing countries with and without mandatory environmental reporting on investment properties. The study’s findings suggest that environmental reporting requirements may help improve the environmental performance of properties and enhance transparency.

In the U.S., a country that does not legislate green reporting, REITs that have green portfolios were found to achieve higher rental incomes, lower interest expenses and increasing cash flow, which benefits shareholders. They also carry lower systematic risk, are subject to more informed trading, and attract higher premiums to net asset value than firms with a non-green portfolio.

By contrast, in the United Kingdom (U.K.), where reporting on environmental performance is mandatory, the difference in the earnings of green buildings … Read More

Car-free zones, vertical forests lead Europe’s ‘clean air’ revolution

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Air pollution is a key environmental issue that is not only restricted to densely populated cities like Beijing or Delhi but is spreading its wings into many European nations as well, like Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK. The issue has posed multiple challenges in terms of management and mitigation of harmful pollutants.

Studies found that 85 percent of people living in urban areas are exposed to fine particulate matter at harmful levels. According to the recent air quality report from the European Environment Agency, air pollution causes 467,000 premature deaths across the continent annually. In addition, studies have shown that air pollution increases the incidence of a wide range of diseases (e.g. respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer), with both short- and long-term health effects.

To deal with this problem, European cities have undertaken a variety of initiatives. EU air pollution legislation has followed a twin-track approach of implementing both air quality standards, including an exposure reduction target for particulate matter, and emission mitigation controls.

Franz Jenowein, JLL’s Director of Global Sustainability Research, believes each city is different with its own constellation of geographic, meteorological and industrial conditions, and solutions are similarly varied.

Putting the brakes on vehicular pollution

“We’re seeing schemes such as car-free zones, preferential treatment for electric vehicles, and pruning high-emitting vehicles from the road,” Jenowein said.

London, for example, is planning the world’s first Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which will initially cover the existing congestion charge zone. Slated for roll-out in 2019, the ULEZ will apply to petrol cars below Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles below Euro 6 standards, with a daily fee starting at £12.50 for cars and going up to £100 for buses and HGVs.

Though difficult to implement, measures to curb vehicular pollution can yield unexpected benefits. … Read More