Home AEC New Software Tool C&W Green Buildings Designed to Aid Sustainability Efforts

New Software Tool C&W Green Buildings Designed to Aid Sustainability Efforts

Cushman & Wakefield, CFP Green Buildings, C&W Green Buildings, Paris Agreement, Science Based Targets initiative

By Kate Snyder

As the real estate industry as a whole turns more and more toward sustainability and combating climate change, one tool created through a partnership between Cushman & Wakefield and CFP Green Buildings is designed to help decarbonization efforts. The technology, C&W Green Buildings, is a proprietary digital software assessment tool that identifies custom decarbonization, retrofitting and cost savings opportunities for real estate investors and owners. 

According to Andrew Phipps, global head of sustainability thought leadership at Cushman & Wakefield, the technology works by recognizing the type of property, retrieving  the sustainability score and identifying the most relevant sustainability measures. From there, it establishes a business case, cost-effectively and automatically on the basis of algorithms and APIs. 

The main advantages, Phipps said, are that the tool is suitable for any project and any size from individual buildings to entire portfolios, that it offers a business case for sustainability by calculating the ROI of investments in sustainable buildings and energy labels and that it provides an overview of all sustainability projects through analyzing the progress of the financial and technical plans of green buildings.

“The enrichment of data by owners and banks creates a self-managing system of sustainability and enables them to take action,” Phipps said. “It offers a great way to smartly decarbonise your real estate or loan book.”

According to information from Cushman & Wakefield, the C&W Green Buildings tool filters 120 building characteristics to assess current carbon emissions and energy efficiency at a property. Characteristics include the country, climate, cost of energy, materials, labor, local emission factors, carbon prices, building age and size. That data then advises clients on improvement opportunities to reduce the environmental footprints of their real estate portfolios. The tool was announced last year and has been rolled out in markets within North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

So far, Phipps said the tool seems to be engaging large banks more than anyone else. He noted that there’s a real demand to understand any level of possible risk in light of changing legislation in Europe in particular around emissions and the energy efficiency of buildings. But Phipps emphasized that the importance of addressing climate change in the real estate industry is becoming impossible to deny.

“The expectation on the built environment to ‘play its part’ in the growing climate crisis is increasing,” he said. “The recent IPCC report highlighted beyond any reasonable doubt that we have to act now, today. As a result of this and previous knowledge businesses want and need to understand their pathway to net zero.”

Cushman & Wakefield’s research on sustainability shows that an estimated 80 percent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built, which the firm argues is evidence that the reduction of carbon emissions is a vital component to preventing irreversible climate change. Through its research, the company analyzed one million assets totaling 6.6 billion square meters across 143 countries, and its data shows the cost to decarbonize the global real estate market is approximately $18 trillion. By addressing decarbonization, the commercial real estate industry could achieve an estimated 6.2 gigatons, or 75 percent, of carbon reduction annually.

The C&W Green Buildings tool is one of the most recent environmental initiatives that Cushman & Wakefield has been involved in. According to the firm’s website, it is dedicated to reducing its emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the company’s targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Targets include reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its corporate offices and operations 50 percent by 2030 from a 2019 base year, engaging key clients to set science-based targets by 2025 and reaching net zero value chain emissions by 2050.

“It is amazing that the real estate industry has not been under more pressure to address the impact of the built environment,” Phipps said. “There is a need to work on two fronts – the carbon created in the construction process and the carbon emitted during the operational phase. We know that a relatively large number of buildings are at risk of obsolescence over the course of the decade and need substantive change to remain relevant.”