Confirming our climate change position after COP23

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The climate change battle has elicited a wide range of reactions by companies and individuals engaged in climate mitigation and sustainability measures. While some are showing fatigue after many years of uphill struggle, others have stepped up their engagement in order to fill the gap some national governments and institutions have left behind.

JLL is part of the latter group that is committed to finding solutions to this imperative global challenge. JLL recently signed the We Are Still In declaration, a U.S. climate action movement launched in June 2017. The declaration’s more than 2,500 signatories, including U.S. business leaders, governors, mayors and NGOs, represent the nation’s enduring promise to uphold the Paris Agreement despite the federal government’s withdraw from the accord earlier this year.

In October 2017, JLL published its own Climate Change Position Statement in the run-up to the COP23 global climate summit. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that buildings are responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. JLL’s Climate Change Position Statement acknowledges that the real estate industry has a responsibility to reduce global emissions by helping our clients, employees, workplaces and communities mitigate and adapt to climate change and significantly reduce their energy consumption. This position closely aligns with JLL’s sustainability leadership agenda, Building a Better Tomorrow, which … Read More

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