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2021 Reflections: Carbon Tech [Nexus Newsletter #109]

2021 Reflections: Carbon Tech [Nexus Newsletter #109]

Hey friends,

Last year, we talked A LOT about climate tech for buildings. Today, let’s weave all of those pieces together into one cohesive, succinct narrative. Each piece from 2021 is linked below so you can jump down the rabbit hole—if you dare. Blue links are accessible only by members of our Nexus Pro community.

Here we go…

From a human race perspective, we need to retrofit >85% of buildings to zero‐carbon‐ready or nearly zero level by 2050. That means 2.5-4% per year, roughly 200,000 buildings in the US alone. For new buildings, we need to build only zero-carbon-ready buildings by 2030. To put that into context, only 13% of buildings in the United States even have a building automation system.

Slowly but surely, it’s becoming clear that real estate organizations will be left behind if they don’t do their part. Australia’s offices industry is the leading indicator for what the rest of the world needs to look like. I think it will, but we need A LOT of policy and market signal wins across the world to get there. And we need a lot of help from electric utilities (data access is one example).

Most organizations now have corporate sustainability professionals, but they’re mostly stuck on reporting. Most don’t have a specific action plan. The traditional energy management process depends on collaboration between these portfolio level sustainability folks and local facility managers, but the chasm between them is wide and awash with misaligned incentives. For example, if there is a local FM, they have 11 other priorities.

Speaking of energy management practices, today’s best practices for decarbonizing a building are archaic, typically involving site visits and clipboards and spreadsheet models and simple payback napkin math that doesn’t value carbon. Software technology for decarbonizing buildings has been around forever, but it’s fragmented and often disconnected from the core business.

Is there hope? Yes, I believe there is. Here are some of the hopeful stories we told in 2021:

My question for you as we begin 2022:

If you’re not fully active in this fight right now, what are you waiting for? What can you do this year to level up your impact?