Journey to the Destination: Getting to Net Zero

Green Globes Net Zero Certification

September 21 marks Zero Emissions Day 2023 and reminds us to do our part toward the global objective of a planet untarnished by emissions from fossil fuels. Fortunately, for many companies, sustainability has become a core part of their business plan and is layered into their day-to-day operations and objectives. While many are up to their necks in the deep end, there are still many dipping toes into the investigation of what it takes to reduce GHG emissions in commercial real estate portfolios.

Nearly half of all Fortune Global 500 companies have hired a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), and for good reason. Stakeholders are demanding performance but not just on financial statements. We’ve come to realize that climate change affects all of us: a flood in Libya, a fire in Sacramento, a hurricane in Florida, and a drought in Spain. This isn’t just someone else’s problem—it’s everyone’s problem.

Consumers are changing their criteria for brand loyalty. Gen Z members, in particular, are not tied to any one brand. Instead, they base their purchasing decisions on loyalty programs, a sense of community, and increasingly, a public ESG strategy. Access to capital is now tied to company ESG ratings, and according to a recent Climate Impact Partners study, companies that reduced emissions earned about $1 billion more in profit than those that didn’t. In short, public support is critical.

Getting started with sustainability can be daunting. Terms such as “ESG,” “decarbonization,” and “net zero” are widely used but can be confusing with little standardization or universally adopted metrics for accounting and reporting. And once climate targets are set, how do you get there? How do you benchmark? Many companies need a robust framework to help them get started and someone to hold their hand down the path—a partner for the journey.

For the past eighteen months, GBI has collaborated with SMEs, industry professionals, local jurisdictions, and organizations pursuing climate targets to understand the needs of the market. A familiar statistic indicates that the built environment accounts for nearly 40% of annual global CO2 emissions—meaning those of us in the building industry have a lot of work to do. GBI has developed a Net Zero Calculator that helps building owners identify their net site EUI and net CO2e percent reductions against a baseline as part of their efforts to map out a journey to net zero objectives through continuous improvement.

GBI is renowned for its user support. You aren’t in this alone. GBI’s Green Globes rigorous whole building certification uses a collaborative and transparent process to assess sustainability achievements in new construction and existing commercial real estate. GBI assigns both a dedicated Project Manager and a third-party Green Globes Assessor (GGA) to each project. Open communication is encouraged as the process is intended to be both educational and impactful. We know this process works, and we’ve applied it to our Journey to Net Zero™ certification program.

We recognize that companies differ widely in their experience and to-day achievements on climate action, but every building owner, can and should leverage tools like these to evaluate progress and plan next steps on the journey toward achieving NZ objectives. The Green Globes Journey to Net Zero™ Energy & Carbon certification and recognition program leverages rigorous carbon accounting principles combined with the collaborative and transparent process to assess achievements in reducing energy requirements and carbon impacts. The programs encourage all building owners to get started, and we are here to help.

Because the math is complex, we’re keeping the process simple. If you’re just starting your journey, the Net Zero Calculator will identify where to begin. All projects, regardless of their estimated reduction in net site EUI or net CO2e, are encouraged to participate in third-party review. A GGA will provide a detailed, personalized progress report and recommendations for improvement for every third-party reviewed project. Projects reaching 100% reduction achieve Green Globes Net Zero certification, which is the ultimate objective of the journey. As you progress toward this goal, GBI provides recognition opportunities to help you tell your journey story starting from when you can demonstrate at least a 50% reduction in either net site EUI or net CO2e.

Our intention is to meet all building owners where they are, help them “hop on the onramp,” and guide them through a transparent process to incorporate design, operations, and renewable energy strategies to reach net zero. Although it’s ultimately about the destination, the journey is just as important.

Today’s Zero Emissions Day is a day to raise awareness on the impact of carbon emissions and sound the alarm about climate harm that is caused by unchecked daily human activities. To limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels, we all must work together. It’s everyone’s problem, and we’re all part of the solution. GBI is committed to helping by providing accessible tools and resources to improve the built environment’s impact on climate and society.

Start your Journey to Net Zero™ today.