CBRE Sustainability Report: Four-Year, $1m ‘Green Research Challenge’ Launched
Global real estate services company CBRE increased electricity use in its worldwide operations by 6 percent last year, from 60,642 to 64,284 MWh, according to its 2011 corporate responsibility report.
In the report, CBRE also revealed its Real Green Challenge, which will award $1,000,000 over four years to fund independent research on sustainable commercial real estate and ways to reduce buildings’ water and energy consumption. CBRE says it intends to fund the first project in early 2013.
The company says it will improve energy efficiency by 20 percent across its US portfolio by 2020, but it doesn’t give a baseline for this measure. Last year CBRE installed energy submeters in 663,000 square feet of its US office space, according to the report. It has committed to developing a system to measure utility usage in its 50 largest emitting locations, by installing separate metering devices by 2017.
Despite the 2010-2011 rise in electricity use, CBRE has met goals in other areas of building management. In 2011 the company achieved its 2007 commitment of LEED for Existing Buildings certification for 100 buildings. CBRE, which manages 3.2 billion square feet of client property globally, says it’s the first commercial property manager to achieve this target.
The company has pledged that by 2017, at least 70 percent of its corporate facilities larger than 20,000 square feet will use “recognized green building standards,” and its smaller corporate properties will continue to meet minimum requirements.
The 2011 sustainability report says two CBRE-managed properties earned top rankings in the EPA’s 2011 National Building Challenge. The North Suburban Medical Office in Denver reduced its energy use intensity by 33.7 percent and saved $107,000 in annual energy costs, earning it a first-place award. The World Trade Center East in Seattle reduced its energy use 17.4 percent and saved $34,680 in annual energy costs.
CBRE’s carbon emissions totaled 52,232 metric tons in 2011. The company achieved its carbon neutrality goal in 2010, offsetting 50,600 metric tons.
The report says that, instead of continuing to purchase credits to offset its 2011 carbon footprint, the company instead focused on mitigation programs that reduce emissions at the point of occurrence. CBRE says it will continue to offset carbon in Australia.
According to the report, CBRE has historically included all emissions from sources controlled or owned by the company — including its global vehicle fleet and direct electricity consumption — in its carbon measurement. In Australia, the company’s carbon measurement also includes emissions from Scope 3 activities such as corporate travel.
In its 2011 sustainability report, the company commits to reporting all Scope 3 emissions globally for 2013. The company reports it has begun to identify corporate travel trends, focusing on the Americas region where more of the travel occurs, and has found that 68 percent of all travel-related carbon came from long-haul, domestic US flights.
To improve travel practices, CBRE says it will use virtual meetings and rail travel where possible, and increase stays at hotels that commit to reducing their emissions.
In 2011, CBRE formed a Global Sustainability Steering Committee, comprised of senior leadership and tasked with ensuring that sustainability becomes embedded across every line of business and geography. This committee will develop a new program to replace the company’s carbon neutrality initiative.
CBRE, which already reports to the Carbon Disclosure Project, became a signatory to the CDP’s Investor and Water Disclosure projects in 2011.
Since 2007, CBRE says it has been replacing office equipment with Energy Star (or comparable in non-US markets) versions. In 2008, the company had a global inventory of 321 devices using 3.1 million sheets of paper monthly; in 2011, 431 devices used 3.6 million sheets annually. However, the report says, by using more energy-efficient machines, less paper and other measures, the company netted a 32 percent reduction in energy consumption over the baseline.
Also since 2007, the company says its 40,000 PCs have become about 25 percent more energy efficient.
In April 2012, CBRE’s US operations conducted their fifth annual office audit and found that 100 percent of the US offices recycled paper in 2011. Additionally, 88 percent recycled toner and cartridges, 90 percent recycled aluminum and 85 percent recycled plastic. The report says 94 percent used controlled thermostats and 84 percent purchased recycled paper.
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