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How Can Real Estate Get on Board With Cutting Energy Use?

Dec 15, 2023
Reducing the amount of energy that buildings use is pivotal to shrinking real estate’s carbon footprint, which currently accounts for around 40% of all global emissions.

From our Sustainability Thought Leader Partner, JLL

Operational emissions account for three quarters of real estate’s overall carbon footprint, which makes a building’s day-to-day operations an obvious place to start decarbonization efforts. It’s an area where many corporate occupiers have the power to generate significant savings while also helping meet their sustainability targets. 

One way to conserve energy by reducing use in unoccupied or underoccupied parts of the building. Consider, for example, an office that supports a hybrid workforce. The company could limit in-office hours to three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, conserving energy from Friday through Monday.

For buildings that need to remain open round-the-clock, concentrating density in specific spaces can reduce operational energy use. Using advanced software like JLL’s Dynamic Occupancy Management, occupants can schedule office visits in advance, allowing the company to coordinate space allocation to maximize occupancy on a single floor. This approach can reduce energy use by 10 – 20% and be put in place immediately.

Longer-term, smart sensors that detect office occupancy can improve energy efficiency by optimizing lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC).

Making structural changes

Identifying building optimizations and enhancements as part of wider retrofitting plans can have a significant impact on cutting energy consumption, with the added benefits of lowering emissions and costs. Increasingly, building owners and corporate occupiers are working together to scope out how these retrofits can mutually benefit both parties.

As Christian Whitaker, JLL’s Global Head of Sustainable Operations explains in the video above, investments in modernized HVAC and lighting systems can significantly improve energy efficiency in addition to other building modifications like improved insulation. 

In older buildings, draught proofing and better insulation can cut wasted heating costs while switching to LED lights and maximizing the use of natural light in office design can improve energy efficiency while creating a more pleasant work environment. These enhancements also bring buildings closer to net zero design.

However, not every sustainability and property enhancement strategy will result in immediate energy and cost reductions.  Amid a tough economic climate, building owners and tenants must prioritize their efforts in the short-term while also thinking about the longer-term view. Actions taken now to reduce reliance on fossil fuels will support their net zero ambitions and help to future-proof their business in the coming decades.


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