The breea team recently attended the 2023 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (Greenbuild) in Washington, DC. Central themes of this year’s conference included decarbonizing the built environment, net zero targets, climate resilience, and the ever-changing regulatory landscape around climate disclosure and reporting. Key takeaways included:
- Decarbonizing: Improving the operations of existing buildings has been a primary focus in decarbonization efforts. However, it is only one piece of the puzzle. There is an increasing focus on accounting for the embodied carbon of buildings, especially for new developments. Embodied carbon includes the emissions associated with the production/transport of materials and the construction process.
- Net Zero Targets: While many organizations have committed to net zero targets, it is largely unclear how many of these targets will be achieved. According to JLL research, "over 90% of top global corporations have set ambitious, publicly stated sustainability goals, based on a survey of 50 top firms. But a mere 19% have a clear sustainability action plan with committed spend to help them achieve those goals." Additionally, organizations are increasingly setting science-based targets through the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and developing asset-level net zero strategies using tools such as the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM).
- Scope 3 Emissions: Closely related to net zero targets, decarbonization, and embodied carbon is the ever-present elephant in the room – Scope 3 emissions. The ever-changing regulatory landscape includes proposed legislation on the federal and state levels (i.e., SEC Climate Disclosure Rule & California's SB 253 Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act) that may require the accounting of Scope 3 emissions. As there is currently no universal guidance on how to account for Scope 3 emissions, these emerging regulations may move the market to greater consensus.
- LEED v5 Operations and Maintenance (O&M): A draft of the new LEED v5 O+M rating system was released during Greenbuild. LEED v5 will incorporate the forthcoming U.S. government definition of zero-emissions buildings and adopt minimum requirements for embodied carbon.
- Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022: The recently passed IRA that includes lucrative renewable energy tax credits continues to be a hot topic. However, the industry is still awaiting guidance from the IRS on how to leverage these tax credits.
- Greening the Grid: Although a critical component of our country's transition to net zero emissions, greening the grid was largely absent from discussions at Greenbuild.
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