As governments draw up plans for transitioning to a net zero economy, eyes are on businesses (both big and small) to make lasting changes to reduce carbon emissions. It’s no surprise that the CRE world is of great environmental consequence. Buildings currently contribute nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions globally, and almost half of U.S. energy consumption is associated with the built environment, according to Gensler’s Impact By Design 2020 report.

For investors, sustainable assets are the more desirable ones. In the long term, sustainable assets are more efficient, more valuable, more resilient, and certainly offer a better customer experience. According to the Deloitte report, research by Savills Investment Management found that 73% of the world’s institutional investors expect green lease clauses to be incorporated universally between tenants and real estate investment managers by 2029.

On a more micro level, Boulder is an international climate leader. The County has been recognized by CDP, a global environmental reporting organization, for its bold leadership on environmental action and transparency. Boulder County made the “Cities A List,” earning the CDP’s highest rating alongside 95 cities around the world. Only 12% of cities that were scored in 2022 received an A.

In the Boulder Climate Action Plan, the city has set out to reduce carbon emissions 70 percent by 2030, hit net-zero emission by 2035 and become carbon-positive by 2040. In 2006, Boulder made history when it introduced the carbon tax, which was the first of its kind in the United States. The carbon tax generates about $1.8 million each year, and these funds go toward implementing the Boulder Climate Action Plan.

The 2020 City of Boulder Energy Conservation Code is important to pay attention to if you are in commercial real estate, especially in construction and development. It is a localized version of the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code that is 20% more efficient than the national code. The city updates our energy code on a three-year cycle with the goal of attaining net-zero energy, outcome-verified code by 2031 to meet broader city-wide climate commitment goals. The code is extensive (155 pages) and goes into great detail on temperature, power, lighting, HVACs are more. Something we are currently seeing with commercial property owners is privately-owned commercial and industrial buildings 20,000 square feet and larger must comply with both the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance and the Building Performance Ordinance (BPO). The lighting requirements for the BPO include specific exterior lighting upgrades such as LED lighting.

All this said– what is good for the planet is good for business, and Boulder has the highest per-capita concentration of B Corps in the nation. This includes Ben & Jerry’s, Bhakti Chai, Conscience Bay Company, EarthHero, Namaste Solar, Purely Elizabeth, Uplight and many more. We are excited to share that we are also taking steps to be a net-zero company and hope to apply to become a B Corp at the end of 2023!