Chasing net-zero carbon
One crucial point of focus for BREEAM is net-zero carbon. As Marc Rapport pointed out in an article on the Urban Land Institute's research in sustainability, net-zero carbonization is becoming the most important standard in green-building maintenance. This is because, according to research from the United Nations, as much as 28% of the world's carbon emissions come from building operations.
What does net-zero carbon mean? "In our world, it is simply buildings creating more energy than they use," said Breana Wheeler. "In our program, we focus on on-site renewables. Not because we believe that every building will be able to achieve that balance, but because we are encouraging assets to focus on what they can do with what they have on-site first."
Net-zero carbon isn't just about the value of energy savings or even about doing what's best for the planet. There is another crucial concern: the continuing wave of legislation that requires building owners to meet certain energy efficiency standards. As Wheeler put it: "Investors are looking really hard at the lifecycle cost of buildings now. Because particularly with regulation coming in, looking at the longer term, say, I'm buying an asset, that's great now, but in 10 years time, am I going to have an extensive retrofit cost because it's not going to meet regulation, or other aspects looking down the longer term."
The Millionacres bottom line
Certification programs have both short- and long-term value. However, there is a cost associated both with obtaining the certification and making the necessary improvements. In some cases, you may be able to access real estate financing, such as C-PACE, to pay for retrofitting or energy efficiency upgrades.
Finding the right program for you will depend on a variety of factors, but there's one crucial step no matter what you choose: Start measuring the energy use of your property and considering what improvements you're ready to make in order to reduce costs and improve performance.
"We would say with any asset, if you weren't measuring yet, start with the basics," said Wheeler. She went on to elaborate regarding this topic:
Start with your electricity bill, that's always a good one, start on that, start reading your meters on a daily basis. Do the basic groundwork first for data collection. Then start looking into the sensor market. But make sure that it's data that you can actually use for insight. We see a lot of just data in pushing out for reporting, but it's not really helping drive the needle forward. We need to move towards a better outcome.