Building Retrofits: The Key To Commercial Real Estate Achieving Net-Zero Emissions

NewsMar 7, 2022

Chris Gray, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, RENU Communities for 

Nationwide, local governments and jurisdictions are mandating climate change goals. Though different from state to state, a common thread between many of the goals is to reach some form of net-zero emissions by 2050.

It’s an ambitious goal that will take lots of work and collaboration across many industries; among the most prominent is commercial real estate. Recently, the real estate sector has shifted toward integrating renewable energies and more efficient construction into new projects. That is a good starting point, but first, we must address the millions of existing buildings emitting mass amounts of carbon and improve the energy efficiency and decarbonization of these existing properties.

Existing buildings account for nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, with 12% of direct global GHG emissions coming from the U.S., according to the EPA. These buildings consume 40% of total energy and 70% of electricity produced in the U.S. To address real estate’s carbon footprint, dated buildings must be retrofitted into high-value decarbonized assets at minimal expense to owners, management and tenants.

Retrofitting can be a costly process up front, but upon completion, building owners will start to see immediate savings. With new, streamlined technology, working at optimal performance, owners will more than recover the hefty initial costs.