In September 2023, U.S. home prices were up 2.0% compared to last year and on average, the number of homes sold was down 16.3 percent, down some 500.598 homes sold. Even expensive housing have seen prices drop. This post-pandemic era offers high interest rates and fluctuating occupancy patterns. While real estate is shrouded in uncertainty, decarbonization is big. Companies are being urged to take full advantage of what Ben Evans, federal legislative director with U.S. Green Building Council, calls an “all-you-can-eat buffet” of benefits. “You don’t have to pick one. There are lots of grants and tax incentives that can be taken together and stacked.”
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) encourages building owners to take action to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency. “In many U.S. cities, the energy used in buildings is the largest source of climate pollution,” Kate Johnson, head of U.S. Federal Affairs at C40 Cities says. With an upfront investment that pays for itself, commercial or high-rise residential building owners could improve energy efficiency. However, upfront costs can be daunting and retrofits for large apartment complexes or skyscrapers can run into the millions. Awareness continues to be a challenge and decarbonization technologies are new to many builders.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is also supporting companies with the measurement and verification of portfolio-wide performance improvement relative to an organizations’ real estate commitments, including energy and emissions. The non-profit organization helps companies scale their sustainability by utilizing 30-years of market research, collaboration, and product development.
“Older buildings use a lot of energy. We need to invest in those and get them more energy efficient,” Evans says. Addressing existing structures and not just new builds is key to reaching decarbonization goals. How role are utilities playing in raising awareness about the “all-you-can-eat” energy efficiency buffet?