A Look Back at COP21 and Lessons for the CRE Industry

COP21 saw the signing of a historic climate agreement – the Paris Agreement – among the world’s 195 countries. This milestone came from commitments of over 5,000 global companies that together represent over $38 trillion in revenue[1]. The Conference’s particular emphasis on energy efficiency and building efficiency, compounded with a general technology transformation in the market, could signify the right timing for the commercial real estate sector to take advantage of these changes and engage with the growing body of stakeholders. Here in the US, commercial buildings account for over  30% of greenhouse emissions[2] and 74% of electricity consumption[3], and therefore play a crucial role in mitigating climate change through energy efficiency commitments. Institutions and industries have also identified the “building sector [as] offering some of the greatest potential for rapid and economically beneficial change, and the technology to achieve this already exists”[4].

As Rocky Mountain Institute’s Iain Campbell suggests in his blog, this is the time for a necessary and new paradigm for efficiency[5]; it is also important to recognize the different actors and the human factors that are driving building efficiency. In our increasingly people-centric market, this translates into a growing body of stakeholders for the building sector. In conjunction with flourishing cloud-based technologies, the growing importance of measurability and the now widely policy-driven conscientiousness surrounding sustainability and climate action, the market transformation presents building teams with unprecedented opportunities. These opportunities include the very tangible building operation cost savings, the much-needed improved engagement with tenants (whose satisfaction is a priority for CRE) [4], and the invaluable benefits of staying current with thousands of private corporations that are fulfilling their energy efficiency commitments.

The COP21 agreement might sound nebulous and even irrelevant to some. However, it is an agreement amongst people, and as we have seen, along with technology and implementation, the human factor is becoming increasingly recognized as vital to driving change. To quote Jerry Brown, former Oakland mayor, current governor of California and one of the signatories of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, “[a]cting on climate change is not just about a treaty, it is about all of us: cities, regions, subnationals.” In the era of IoT, property owners and management professionals must go beyond simply investing in efficiency retrofits.  To commit to energy and building efficiency and make the commitments demonstrable to a growing variety of stakeholders, management teams must equip their teams with advanced data analytics, such as energy management software, which provide evidence of efficiency improvements, and they must all work together.  COP21 is an apt illustration of various stakeholders working together, and similarly, the CRE industry can easily tap into initiating efficiency improvements in their buildings, perhaps starting with the empowering knowledge from the data provided by solutions in energy management.



[1] Hardcastle, Jessica Lyons, “COP21 Climate Deal: What’s Next for Business”, Environmental Leader, December 15, 2015 <http://www.environmentalleader.com/2015/12/15/cop21-climate-deal-whats-next-for-business/>

[2] Campbell, Iain, “Building Efficiency Crucial to COP21 Commitments”, RMI Outlet, December 3, 2015 <http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2015_12_3_building_efficiency_crucial_to_cop21_commitments#disqus_thread>

[3] “Why the Building Sector”, Architecture 2030 <http://architecture2030.org/buildings_problem_why/>

[4] Campbell, Iain, “Building Efficiency Crucial to COP21 Commitments”, 2015 <http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2015_12_3_building_efficiency_crucial_to_cop21_commitments#disqus_thread>

[5] Ibid.

[6] CoR Advisors Webcast “Practical Applications of IoT in Today's Commercial Facilities”, December 4, 2015 <http://www.coradvisors.net/previouswebcasts.asp>