ULI CONFERENCE: ULI Europe launches initiative to fast track decarbonisation

ULI Europe has launched a programme to galvanise industry efforts to decarbonise real estate as part of the broader fight against climate change.

Unveiling the C Change initiative at ULI Europe’s annual conference in Brussels, CEO Lisette van Doorn said the scale of the decarbonisation challenge meant the industry had to shoulder and address it together.

‘We know the scale and urgency of the challenge are overwhelming,’ she said. ‘Every part of the real estate value chain will need to adapt. To decarbonise is to undertake structural change of the magnitude that we’ve not seen before.’

Calling on her audience of built environment and land use professionals to join the initiative, she said: ‘This is not a topic to be competitive about. Instead, we need to fast track decarbonisation and we can only do that if we work together.’

Van Doorn said ULI had spent the past few months carrying out the groundwork for C Change, which involved conducting a ‘major audit’ of all the initiatives currently being undertaken on decarbonisation in the built environment. In addition, the organisation had interviewed more than 75 stakeholders both within the real estate industry and the broader sustainability landscape.

‘This review enabled us to identify the real barriers that are holding back the industry’s progress,’ she said. Key areas of focus that need to be addressed are property valuations and alignment between tenants and landlords on the need to decarbonise.

Said Van Doorn: ‘Currently, property valuations do not properly reflect climate risk… We need to build the case to transform existing stock and to do this, we need a common industry methodology to assess climate risk as part of property valuations.’

On the subject of landlord-tenant alignment, she noted that the traditional nature of the relationship between the two parties often ‘hindered’ progress. ‘We want to explore practical ways to align and create common goals for landlords and tenants to work together to decarbonise and retrofit.’

Van Doorn said ULI would seek to ‘actively collaborate’ with other organisations to move C Change’s work forward.

‘C Change is not another well-meaning pledge or alliance,’ she said. ‘It’s a movement that aims to strip away the politics and the noise to achieve real workable solutions. We’ve put together this programme because our members span the entire value chain of real estate and are spread across Europe. We think this is an excellent starting point from which to begin. But we too are not competitive, and we will seek to actively collaborate with other organisations within real estate and outside.’

Van Doorn concluded: ‘We know the problem of decarbonisation is great, but it’s not insurmountable and many times before, as illustrated most recently in dealing with the pandemic, the industry has shown its agility and flexibility. We truly believe we can do this together.’

ULI Europe’s annual conference is being held at the Square convention centre in Brussels this week. The event marks the organisation’s 21st anniversary and the first in-person gathering since 2020, when the conference was held in Amsterdam just before Covid struck.  


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