Inside CRE’s Frustrating Battle To Reduce Its Carbon Emissions — And Save Humanity

A Note From The UK Editor

The world is at a tipping point. Last month, the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out a stark warning. Humanity needs to dramatically up its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and it needs to do it right now. 

As a major contributor to global greenhouse gas output, the commercial real estate industry has to be at the forefront of the fight against the climate crisis — but a major investigation by Bisnow indicated it is not doing its bit to avert ecological disaster. 

Bisnow undertook an analysis of the decarbonization targets of the world’s 75 largest real estate investors and managers to see if the warm words of press releases and ESG reports were being matched by tangible action. In too many cases, the gap between words and actions was stark. 

Almost half of the organizations reviewed had no overarching target to decarbonize their portfolios. An even greater number omitted from their targets a huge proportion of the emissions typically created by a real estate owner, rendering their targets ineffective. Companies are only doing as much as regulators ask of them, showing they can be pushed harder.

The data can be explored in three articles outlining different facets of the investigation, all of which include interactive data visualizations that allow readers to examine the individual strategies of those 75 firms and see who is leading the fight and who is lagging behind. The package includes a podcast outlining the six-month reporting process and a deeper dive into some of the conclusions to be drawn.

There are reasons for hope. None of the barriers holding back faster and deeper decarbonization are insurmountable. And it is not too late for real estate to make the radical, systemic change that is needed to help the world avert the worst impacts of global warming. But the sector has to want to make change. 

Mike Phillips, Bisnow UK Editor | April 20, 2023

A Note From The UK Editor


Bisnow's analysis of the decarbonization targets of global real estate's 75 biggest owners and managers

Almost half of the biggest names in real estate, which own or manage more than $1T of assets, don't have a target to decarbonize their portfolios. Setting targets and cutting carbon are vital for the future of humanity, experts say.


How the biggest firms are omitting up to 90% of their emissions from targets

Even those organizations that do have a decarbonization target are, in a majority of cases, omitting emissions that make up the lion's share of the carbon they put into the atmosphere, those from tenanted areas and construction. Experts say, "You may as well be doing nothing."


How to make companies cut faster and avoid passing the problem on to others

The firms Bisnow analyzed said if regulators made them cut emissions more quickly or address a greater proportion of them, they would do it. So how can legislators and the industry work together? Plus a dive into how the biggest firms are using the contentious tactic of carbon offsets.


Bisnow's Miriam Hall talks to reporting team Mike Phillips, Ciara Hall and Jacob Wallace about the six-month investigation