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Natural Environment

Climate change and the industry’s response

At the RICS World Built Environment Forum Summit in Washington DC, Prashant Kapoor, Principal Industry Specialist (Green Buildings) at the International Finance Corporation, pointed to the fact that 90 countries had recognised the importance of emissions from buildings in their COP21 commitments, as evidence of high ambition. Investment flows would be a key indicator of real intent, but emerging economies in particular lacked the necessary investment frameworks.

19 September 2017

In developed economies there was a 'misalignment in trust': buyers were wary of developer “greenwash”, and lenders were unconvinced that new buildings were sufficiently resilient to climate change.

“Historically we have built our cities close to water, but our 100-year flood plans are no longer of use: we need 300-year flood plans” - Dr Michael Brooks FRICS, CEO Real Property Association of Canada

Measuring value and performance

Brooks cited the growing link between property value and green credentials: efficient buildings attracted higher rents let more quickly. Intensity metrics offered the best means of ensuring comparability of performance and emissions, and these in turn required consistent property measurement standards. Kapoor called for more research into the full value and impact of green investment.

Technology and leadership

Kapoor argued that we already have the technology necessary for a low carbon built environment, and that it needed to be applied more intelligently. Studies had suggested that better insulation was the key to emissions reduction, but this would not be true everywhere.

For example in Jakarta, where insulation would require 100 years to re-pay the investment, a more appropriate response was to ensure better shading. And did it make sense for buildings in hot climates to have large glass edifices?

Given that vast majority of buildings in the developed world already exist, and “70% of India has yet to be built”, a differentiated approach was appropriate. In particular, Kapoor called for better leadership in the sector to collect data, share best practice and develop capacity: a “knowledge leap” rather than a “technology leap.”


A more equitable future is within reach. First, we must harness the enormous potential of the 21st century’s people, places and spaces. #WBEF