Three Steps for Meeting Carbon-Reduction Goals

May 24, 2024 • Ella Krygiel

Buildings are responsible for 37% of global carbon emissions and 34% of energy demand worldwide – because of this, the built environment is an important part of any discussion on carbon reduction - so says a recent CBRE report.  Self-imposed and government-mandated decarbonization goals are a driving force for businesses making strategies in reducing their carbon footprint.  

What does this matter in the case of real estate? Investing in carbon reduction strategies is vital for organizations because it reduces expenses in the long-term and improves brand reputation and competitive advantage, all while contributing to a more sustainable future. Studies report that more consumers and tenants are prioritizing environmentally conscious brands and workplaces than ever before, and the failure to make these environmental changes could become a business liability.  

Below are three steps that businesses can implement to meet carbon-reduction goals.

Analyze Your Carbon Emissions Data 

Consider the financial investment in decarbonization (decarbonization: the permanent removal of carbon emissions of an organization) by creating a portfolio strategy of data visualizations. This will help meet carbon removal goals – not to mention, it will help keep you and your organization on track to achieve these targets. 

Another recommendation from the CBRE report is to align your ambitions with The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). SBTi is a corporate climate action organization that is a gamechanger for businesses striving to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. SBTi is just one resource that companies can implement when developing GHG goals or measuring goal progress. 
Develop Your Decarbonization Strategy 

Once you’ve analyzed the high impact areas your organization needs to focus on, determine a plan for reducing carbon. Every building with heating, cooling and lighting features emits carbon, which contributes to heat trapping in the atmosphere. The solution to this issue is boosting energy efficiency. How can buildings boost energy efficiency? Panelists from the 2024 BOMA International Medical Real Estate Conference shared their insights from the session, “How ESG is Driving Capital Investments.” 

Kate Davis, Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Mgr., Harrison Street stated: “Little changes can make big impacts to your portfolio, like implementing technologies that turn off lights automatically in closets when their door closes – or restricting the ability to change the temperature from too high or too low.” 

Michael Braun, Director of Sustainability Engineering, Lillibridge Healthcare Services echoed these recommendations: “As it relates to solar, you want to look at the cleanliness of the grid. Consider the weather. Some buildings use heat pumps – others it makes sense to use a white roof to omit the heat absorption.” 

Another step that organizations can take in reducing their carbon footprints is planning for electrification and renewable energy. “The future of buildings and transportation is electric,” the CBRE report states. “In buildings, electrification has the potential to reduce emissions, improve an asset’s bottom line and attract quality tenants.”  

Another strategy is determining suitable on-site and off-site renewable energy options that will meet your GHG energy efficiency goals, such as solar, geothermal, or wind. Research which type, or types, of renewable energy is the best fit for your circumstances and geographic region. Effective introduction of renewables into your energy supply can help optimize operations and contribute to long-term savings.  

View this resource from BOMA International to learn more about renewable energy or visit our Decarbonization Resource Center to stay up to date with all the latest carbon reduction strategies. 

Want a better way to analyze your carbon emissions? Make the commitment and join the BOMA International Carbon Challenge, which simply entails a commitment to measure emissions by using the free benchmarking tool in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  

Offset Your Carbon Balance 

One of the last steps of the carbon reduction strategy CBRE provided is to “offset.” Offsetting is when a company continues to produce carbon but compensates for it by funding other projects like reforestation, for example. Carbon offsets are not ideal and should only be considered as a last resort, but they may be necessary in the short-term to meet decarbonization targets. 

The four tactics to consider as part of reducing GHG within your organization are: continuously improve energy efficiency; electrify your portfolio; transition to renewable sources of energy and alternative fuels; and credibly offset the remaining carbon balance.  

As businesses begin their decarbonization processes, it’s important to consider the small ways customers and suppliers can reduce emissions, such as buying low-carbon products; buying from companies that have decarbonized; or making products that produce less carbon.  

Reducing your building’s carbon footprint will future-proof your portfolio, enhance your business and make all the difference in meeting societal goals.