09/12/2023 | by Jessica Long

As part of Building to Zero, an ongoing series of interviews on the decarbonization of the commercial real estate sector, Duane Desiderio, senior vice president and counsel for the Real Estate Roundtable, joined a special episode of Nareit’s REIT Report podcast.

Desiderio spoke with Nareit’s Senior Vice President of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Jessica Long to discuss recent and upcoming activity related to federal policy that supports real estate owners’ efforts to measure and reduce carbon emissions, disclose climate-related financial risk and opportunity, and comply with local building standards.

“Within the last four to five years, the pace at which we have seen federal policy now start to coalesce about greening the built environment, whether that is our buildings, whether that is the electric grid, it's kind of been at a feverish pace,” Desiderio said. “A year ago, we had the Inflation Reduction Act that offered a suite of incentives, grants, loans, and I think in particular for our industry, tax incentives that could help make commercial real estate reduce their emissions, make it more energy efficient.”

The discussion covered how dialogue within the commercial real estate industry is at the forefront of making federal climate programs work for a variety of reasons, one of which being that real estate investors want to invest in real estate assets that are clean, green, and healthy.

Desiderio pointed out that while proposed reporting rules cut across all sectors of the economy, the real estate industry has the benefit of a long history of working with the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR for buildings using its free online tool, Portfolio Manager, to measure and manage energy, water, and waste consumption and calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The EPA recently released a list of enhancements that will further support building owners in their journey to decarbonize.

Other topics include the emergence of state and local building regulations, the need to define net zero for buildings so that real estate companies can accurately assess climate risk, and the importance of efforts underway to develop improved and better tracking of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) so that they're not double counted and are available to support reduction of building emissions generated offsite.

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