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“Deep Green” Gets New Green Light – Healthy Buildings for People and Planet


On July 16, Canada Green Building Council launched a new initiative designed to rally support for a green recovery that includes green building. Industry leaders have lent their support to encourage government decision-makers to direct stimulus spending toward green building initiatives. According to CaGBC, research shows that stimulus spending on green building and progressive policies can contribute $150B to the economy and employ 1.5M people by 2030 while significantly reducing carbon emissions. They will be publishing a full Green Building in Canada report in September, including a deep dive into the Canadian national and regional green building market.

The U.S. commercial real estate market is also recognizing the value of “deep green” buildings that are actually good for the future of the built environment – and we who inhabit it.

Real estate investors and service companies are looking at how the commercial landscape will be reshaped as a result of its response to this period of disruption. The 2020 JLL annual survey this spring, in the midst of the pandemic, shows these four primary drivers:

  • A fast-changing legal and regulatory environment, as hastily enacted regulations intended to address the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic introduce a new layer of complexity.
  • The imperative to tackle climate change and build a significantly decarbonized economy as the real estate industry comes under pressure to transform to a net zero carbon and resilient future.
  • Health and wellness rising to the fore, with an elevated awareness of personal and environmental hygiene, health, work-life balance and social relations.
  • The mass adoption of technology, with proptech platforms and digital tools boosting the volume of data available.

Major real estate firms and companies with large building portfolio holdings have been setting targets for reducing energy use and carbon emissions in buildings in their portfolios. The technology for things like solar power has improved, and the incremental costs of going green have declined. and a growing number of companies are tackling such projects, with some going “deep” on one or two aspects of a development.

And now investors are looking for ventures that adhere to progressive environmental, social and governance policies — so-called E.S.G. investing — it has become easier for developers to get financial backing for green projects, said Joanna Frank, the president and chief executive of the Center for Active Design, which administers the Fitwel certification program for healthier buildings.

“We’re at a place where science is telling us to take action and the financials are telling us it’s doable,” says Marta Schantz, senior vice president for the Greenprint Center for Building Performance at the Urban Land Institute, in a NY Times interview.

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