Category Archives: Cities

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

Real estate’s role in developing smart cities

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Cities are expanding at an unprecedented rate and so is their complexity. By 2050 the world will be populated by an estimated nine-billion people. Seventy percent of people will live in urban areas, many of them in new towns and mega-cities.

In order to be competitive, cities will need to be sustainable, have good transportation systems, and have high-density, mixed-use and efficient infrastructure with low carbon emissions. To support their vast urban populations, cities will increasingly rely on smart infrastructure to efficiently deliver vital services, such as power, water, public transit, distribution of goods and services, waste management and security.

The Smart Cities Council defines smart cities as those that have “digital technology embedded across all city functions,” while the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers describes them as “bringing together technology, government and society” across the economy, mobility, environment, people, living and governance.

There are several reasons that smart cities should be of interest to developers, long-term investors and corporate real estate professionals. Perhaps the most obvious is that smart, sustainable cities command higher land and property values, which attract large-scale investors.

However, the real estate industry needs to understand that the buildings sector plays a huge role in helping to make cities smart. That is because the key to smart cities is data analytics – an important element of which relates to the millions of buildings and the huge masses of population that they accommodate. To gain maximum value from owning or managing assets in a smart city, the real estate itself should also be ‘smart’. Smart buildings and smart cities both generate and require big data.… Read More

With renewable energy pledge, U.S. cities think big

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19880707 - green and office buildingsOn May 1, Atlanta’s City Council pledged to power the city of nearly one-half million completely through renewable energy by 2035. While this may seem like a lofty goal, Atlanta is actually the 27th city in the U.S. to make such a pledge, according to the Sierra Club. San Francisco has pledged to do so by 2030, San Diego by 2035 and Salt Lake City by 2032. Six cities, including Aspen, Colo., Burlington, Vt. and Columbia, Md., have already achieved it. In addition to these population centers, 29 U.S. states have been active in adopting Renewable Portfolio Standards and targets as well.

About 70 percent of the world’s population is estimated to live in cities by 2050, the year the Sierra Club sets as the target for cities to achieve energy independence. Reducing cities’ reliance on fossil fuels by 2050 would drastically curb our impact on global warming. But the impact is on more than just the environment. Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who introduced the city’s renewable energy pledge, touts it as an important tool for job creation and a cost-savings measure for residents’ utility bills, in addition to having cleaner air and water.

Kyle Goehring, Vice President and National Director of JLL’s Clean Energy, which is a specialty in the firm’s Energy Sustainability Services, points out that the cities—and states—who have these goals will often turn to corporate America to follow suit.… Read More

Build a stronger sustainability program: Takeaways from the Earth Hour movement

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Building a successful sustainability program is no simple task – requiring a well-thought-out strategy and dedicated resources. But creating your program is only part of the challenge – communicating your sustainability message and engaging your audience (including employees, clients, and shareholders, among others) are also integral parts of a successful sustainability program.

JLL’s Susannah West, Sustainability Director in South Asia, uses global grassroots movement Earth Hour as a case study in sustainability engagement and identifies four key takeaways that you can apply to your own sustainability program.  

How do you convince individuals that collectively they can make a difference? The answer might be simpler than you think – create a symbolic event that could become a movement. And so Earth Hour was born in 2007 as an event where residents of Sydney, Australia could raise awareness about the need for urgent action on global warming by turning off their lights for one hour.… Read More

Live from COP21: Business Leaders Advocate for Climate Change Agreement

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JLL’s Dan Probst and Sarah Nicholls joined world leaders and experts from the private and public sectors at the United Nations climate conference – known as COP21 – this past week in Paris. To learn more about their experience at COP21, please click here

A wind turbine tree sculpture stands outside the United Nations COP21 conference.

A wind turbine tree stands outside the United Nations COP21 conference.

Wow. It was an incredible few days in Paris, where the atmosphere was clearly one of optimism. All indications continue to point toward reaching a formal global agreement with one of the key drivers being the level of business support for the agreement.

It was incredible to see the large number of CEOs of Fortune 500 firms voicing their encouragement and support for an agreement that, in their estimation, will serve as a catalyst for unlocking billions of dollars of investment in a clean-energy economy. While there continue to be opponents who predict that achieving the agreed upon targets for carbon emission reductions will have a negative impact on the global economy, it is clear that they are in the minority and are contradicting what business leaders across a broad spectrum of industries are saying about the economic impact. Many are comparing COP21 to other major events in history that transformed our industries and societies, such as the industrial revolution.… Read More