CoreNet Global, a major international association for corporate real estate and workplace executives, has released a public policy statement advocating adoption of net-zero energy buildings: "We support the principle that smart and responsible energy policies and practices reduce corporate carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, and we encourage our members' companies to drive energy efficiency to optimal levels with net-zero buildings as a top measure of long-term success."
The same statement calls on federal governments around the world to incentivize building owners, investors, and occupants who proactively reduce their carbon footprints through the use of green energy development and retrofits.
"Office, industrial, retail and other types of commercial real estate account for 40% of the world's annual energy consumption, making energy management and energy conservation socially responsible corporate practices," says CoreNet Global Chairman Jim Scannell, Senior Vice President of Administrative Services at The Travelers Companies, Inc.
The statement emphasizes "tangible benefits for companies and management teams which prioritize energy efficiency and take steps to reduce the carbon footprint. They will realize meaningful return on investment financially, socially and environmentally—as is consistent with the principles of the Triple Bottom Line accounting model."
CoreNet Global's Issues Advocacy Focus Group coordinated the wide-ranging statement based on extensive input from subject matter experts and the extensive, long-term documentation of best-in-class energy management practices from among its more than 7,900 members worldwide. It also marks the first time that corporate occupiers representing the demand side of the commercial real estate industry have spoken with a unified voice to advocate for public policy issues and corporate practices that impact business and society. In its 2012 Industry Leaders Opinion Poll, 90% of CRE executives who responded regard energy management as the most urgent issue facing the CRE industry.
"We're beginning to see the huge environmental, social and economic benefits that energy-independent facilities are offering," Scannell added.
A related finding from CoreNet Global's new Corporate Real Estate 2020 research initiative identifies one key enabler of the migration toward net-zero, predicting that buildings will become energy-producing "micro-grids" that can share electric power across public and private distribution networks.
Key action steps advocated for developers include articulating a clear and compelling vision for energy efficiency; working with energy suppliers and other pieces of the supply chain; and continuously measuring consumption and performance. Government programs advocated include tax deductions for energy-efficiency projects; a federal loan guarantee program for retrofits; state and local incentives that favor efficiency upgrades or retrofits; and updated building codes that reward companies for peak performance.