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Biden Seeks CRE Volunteers For Climate Goal Commitments

President Joe Biden

Mere days after putting a scare into the commercial real estate industry with his new tax plan, President Joe Biden is asking for an assist.

Biden is seeking owners of commercial buildings to make "commitments" to hit three sustainability goals for the purpose of being showcased at an upcoming public event, industry lobbying group Real Estate Roundtable announced. The three commitments were outlined in a fact sheet issued by RER as follows:

  • To install a "significant" number of electric vehicle charging stations across a company's portfolio.
  • To purchase, directly or through credits, clean power equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed by "an entire or majority portion" of the portfolio.
  • To share data on the portfolio's energy consumption with federal agencies and the U.S. Department of Energy's laboratories.

Companies large enough to be deemed "significant" that commit to those goals in the next seven to 10 days have a chance to be named "partners" with the Biden administration and be featured at the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Summit, scheduled to be held from May 17-20 and attended by Cabinet-level government officials. Interested companies are encouraged to contact White House Council on Environmental Quality Senior Director of Building Emissions Mark Chambers.

The Biden administration will allow interested companies to count whatever actions they have already taken to meet the above goals since March 1, 2020, and noted that there are no specific thresholds for a number of EV charging stations to be installed to be considered as meeting the commitment. The administration's appeal to CRE owners is part of an outreach drive to executives across major industries like energy, transportation and manufacturing to secure voluntary participation in sustainability efforts ahead of potential regulations passed in future infrastructure bills.

Biden's appeal to the industry comes directly on the heels of his announcement of the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion proposal that includes the closure of the 1031 exchange tax loophole for real estate transactions that bring in over $500K in capital gains, as well as an increase in the marginal tax rate on all families earning over $500K per year.

The proposal was met by immediate consternation from some in the real estate industry, though it needs to pass in Congress to take effect and may be altered in order to do so. Biden has already begun seeking support and counterproposals from congressional Republicans on his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan, indicating a willingness to negotiate on some points of his agenda.