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Real Estate

Ceres works with real estate investors, regulators, home-builders and other industry leaders to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and facilities industry-wide and set new models and standards for long-term sustainability in the real estate market.

Building for the Future

Buildings with gardens and trees on top.Commercial and residential buildings account for 40% of the energy used and carbon emitted in the U.S., positioning the real estate industry to be a key contributor in combating climate change. Already, industry leaders are providing innovative solutions through better and smarter buildings that use less energy. In addition to decreasing carbon emissions, energy efficient buildings have lower operating costs, and data is mounting that they offer lower lease rates and higher resale value.

Though the potential for energy and dollar savings are huge—$500 billion invested through 2020 would yield gross energy savings of $1.2 trillion according to McKinsey and associates—there are significant barriers to bringing energy efficiency to scale. Large amounts of capital are required, at a time when most financing vehicles are still in the early stages of development.

Investors are looking more carefully at their real estate portfolios and investing in smarter, more energy efficient buildings that will have more value in the future. In addition, regulators are strengthening building codes and standards that will have major impacts for builders and property owners.

Real Estate Initiatives

Ceres works with real estate investors, regulators, home-builders and other industry leaders to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and facilities industry-wide and set new models and standards for long-term sustainability in the real estate market.

Advancing Disclosure in Real Estate

Real Estate and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
For two years Ceres has participated in the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Construction and Real Estate Supplement working group. The Supplement, released in 2011, is meant to strengthen and improve sustainability reporting in the real estate and construction industries. It provides guidance for anyone who invests in, develops, constructs, or manages buildings and covers specific sector-related issues such as materials certification, CO2 emissions, management and remediation of contaminated land and labor health and safety issues.

For more information, download a summary PDF of the supplement, or download the full Sector Supplement at the GRI website. You can also listen to a webinar providing an overview of the Supplement and including presentations by working group members.

Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark

Ceres joined with some of the world’s largest pension asset managers, representing over $1.4 trillion in assets under management, to create the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), an initiative to assess the environmental and social performance of public and private real estate funds. 

The first benchmark was completed in 2009 and the results of the second benchmark were recently launched.  340 real estate funds responded to the survey – a 72% increase over last year’s response rate -- providing institutional investors with an even more comprehensive due diligence tool to assess the environmental performance of their real estate investments.

To learn more, please visit

Investor Action

Ceres works with investors as part of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) to reduce carbon emissions of buildings and increase disclosure of carbon reductions, energy use and other sustainability information industry-wide.

From 2008 to 2009, INCR members worked with three of the nation’s largest home builders, KB Home, Centex and D.R. Horton, to set concrete energy efficiency improvement goals for new homes and increase disclosure of their emissions.

INCR members also encouraged retailers Family Dollar and TJ Maxx to hire sustainability officers and begin producing GRI-based sustainability reports.

Policy and Regulatory Action

Ceres is working with regulators and policymakers to help advance forward thinking energy policies and incentives, including smart ideas like Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bonds, which can be used to provide loans for property owners for energy improvements like efficiency retrofits, and solar and other renewable energy installations.

In 2010, Ceres and Travelers Insurance convened green builders and disaster resilience experts at the U.S. Capitol to discuss solutions for creating buildings that are both energy efficient and disaster resilient. These experts are exploring how and where to build buildings that both are responsive to climate, energy and water constraints and resistant to damages from weather and climate-related risks.

For more information, download "Linking Energy Efficiency and Disaster Resilience Retrofit Programs."

Education and Reports

Ceres releases cutting edge reports to inform investors, regulators and industry and corporate leaders about the risks and opportunities posed by climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability issues for the real estate industry.

Read our most recent real estate report, Energy Efficiency and Real Estate: Opportunities for Investors.

The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability

Ceres has released The 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability as a vision and practical roadmap for integrating sustainability into the DNA of all businesses, regardless of sector or industry. It analyzes the key drivers, risks and opportunities involved in making the shift to sustainability and details strategies and results from companies who are taking on these challenges.

Key expectations around greenhouse gas reductions, energy efficiency, and green building standards are defined in The Roadmap, with a specific recommendation that companies improve energy efficiency of operations by at least 50% by 2020, and electricity demand by 15%.

For more information

Download reports, read news and listen to podcasts about the real estate industry located to the right of this page.