Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently issued two reports that the COTE community should take notice of: Renewable Energy Strategies for Real Estate and Resilient Retrofits: Climate Upgrades for Existing Buildings.
In my 2019 Congressional Testimony, before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, I reiterated the importance of both energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuels in order to meet the Committee’s own goal of a zero carbon economy by 2050. The question is not one of energy efficiency or fuel source, but that fully electric, renewably powered buildings cannot be successful without first curbing consumption. Architects and our project partners have made great strides in reduction, absorption and conservation design strategies and operational policies. And the world of renewables is complex, with local and regional nuances, and may require specialized expertise. If you tried to dip your toe into these waters 10 years ago, you’ll see that the landscape has completely shifted. Renewables are the fastest growing energy source and now more cost effective and achievable- even in Texas, where 40% of our power is wind, the highest percentage of any state. Renewable Energy Strategies for Real Estate is a foundational report that outlines the business case, financing mechanisms, and risk mitigation strategies for both onsite and purchased renewable power.
After returning from the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland (COP26), I flagged existing buildings as one of four big opportunities for architects to do more. It’s not just about making our existing building stock more efficient to save money, enhance comfort and reduce our GHG emissions, but reducing risk and vulnerability of existing real estate assets in the face of more frequent extreme weather and natural disasters. By retrofitting existing buildings that may otherwise fall into disrepair or abandonment, we can also address housing and infrastructure limitations resulting from constricted supply chains, labor shortages and climate migration. Our existing buildings are a critical part of the solution, and Resilient Retrofits outlines the cost benefit analysis of retrofit, including equitable design, policy and finance perspectives.
These resources are free and available to both ULI members and others; non members will need to create a guest ULI account to gain access.
Julie Hiromoto, FAIA, WELL AP, LEED AP, Living Future Accredited, was the 2020 chair of COTE’s national Leadership Group and is a Principal and Global Director of Integration at HKS. She currently serves as the ULI Sustainable Development Council’s Vice Chair of DEI. ULI is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world with the mission to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide. Through our members' dedication to the mission and their shared expertise, the Institute has been able to set standards of excellence in development practice.