How Covid-19 and the Climate are transforming the real estate sector- WEF

15 Nov 2020

The real estate sector has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in unprecedented way. As of 3 April, the unlevered enterprise value of real estate assets had fallen 25% or more in most sectors, especially hospitality and leisure. Some asset classes, especially those with greater human density such as student housing, malls and healthcare facilities, had the hardest shock and have already been sold off in considerable numbers.

Even with the short-term benefits of increased e-commerce, the yield from logistics real estate could drop off, as goods and human movement slow down. The lockdowns also shrank the expected rate of return for letting and construction considerably. The bright side is that consumer demand will probably shift towards more efficient properties, especially since the lockdown experience has revealed the downsides of energy-intensive buildings.

Many real estate investors are not ready to take the sustainable and digital leaps needed to make properties safer and healthier even if, just a few months ago, the debate about sustainability was becoming increasingly urgent in many sectors, real estate included. Yields and returns for energy-intensive buildings will shrink soon – not just due to increasing regulatory pressures or to different working practices which, in part, will outlive the crisis, but rather because if the sector does not reinvent itself, it will contribute to speeding up the pace of the climate crisis.

Given the magnitude of the crisis we are living through, financial operators should stick to two axioms:

1. The physical crises of pandemics and climate change are interconnected.

2. Real estate sustainability is increasingly being impacted by these crises.

When it comes to resilience, the priority is to fully understand any weaknesses and then to build capability. Real estate investors should first seize the moment to decarbonize their portfolio and make their operations sustainable. Secondly, investors could deploy a portion of their resources towards building renewable-energy infrastructure and retrofitted buildings. Third, it is possible to combine traditional investing with environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) insights to improve long-term outcomes.

The Next Climate Tech Breakthrough May Have Already Happened, We Just Didn’t Notice- Earth Institute| Columbia University

15 Dec 2019

The president of the UN General Assembly says we have only 11 years to “prevent irreversible damage to our planet” from climate change. That’s a short deadline in which to prevent an existential crisis. The global community is desperate for solutions that prevent further environmental damage and help us adapt to life in a new climate.

To stay within the targeted limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, scientists insist that we need to reduce the carbon that’s already in the atmosphere, in addition to dropping new emissions to net-zero. The goal is to implement carbon dioxide removal strategies that capture carbon from the air and safely store it.

Existing CO2 removal technologies usually mimic natural biogeochemical processes that sequester carbon, or amplify the carbon-capturing qualities of the ocean, forests and sedimentary rocks. One method would fertilize phytoplankton in the ocean to increase the photosynthetic uptake of carbon. Another relies on crushing up carbon-absorbing rocks to increase their surface area, storage potential, and the rate of carbon removal.

Now, more than ever, there is a need for creative solutions, and these examples show that the next breakthroughs in sustainable development won’t come from Silicon Valley or scientific labs, but from Mother Nature.

The examples are as fascinating as they are absurd. The bullet trains in Japan reach nearly 200 mph thanks to the Kingfisher bird’s aerodynamic beak. Wind turbines are 20 percent more energy efficient when shaped like humpback whale fins, and termite mounds show architects how to improve building air conditioning systems. Industry giants like Seventh Generation are looking to beetles that spray poison to remake aerosol packaging. Swimsuits constructed like shark skin reduce drag so effectively that they were banned at the Olympics. Medical spaces are even applying the antimicrobial properties of shark skin to create sterile surfaces without producing antibacterial resistance.

Read More on Columbia University’s Earth Institute: https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/01/10/biomimicry-climate-sustainability/