Real estate sustainability demands effective PR

For years, scientists, activists and leaders have advocated the need for and the economic opportunities in future-proofing our society against climate change, notes David Harris Kolada.

Public relations will play a critical role in reaching ambitious carbon-reduction targets, as the Biden administration focuses on climate change. Biden has identified climate change as one of his top four priorities, with the goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

For years, scientists, activists and leaders have advocated the need for and the economic opportunities in future-proofing our society and the built environment against climate change. Adept communications must ensure those stories are those heard, as public and private dollars hunt for investment prospects.

Proptech education
Communications professionals are needed to help the public realize what the real estate industry is quickly learning about game-changing property technologies or proptech. Entrepreneurs and their investors are paving the way towards efficient built environments that societies will need to embrace. 

People are gaining greater awareness of proptech that helps building owners meet strict new environmental rules, while attracting tenants desiring sustainability and increased financial returns. As of March, at least 16 states and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation requiring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Reorienting perception of real estate
Buildings and construction account for 38% of total carbon emissions, including 28% from operational emissions, according to a 2020 U.N. report. But most minds jump to mass transportation, agriculture and manufacturing in thinking of the need to cut carbon. 

Communications are critical in providing the narrative that efficient properties translate to earnings. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving resources result in lowering operating costs.

Venture capital, entrepreneurs and PR
Green buildings offer substantial global investment opportunities and investors are following this trend. Buildings constitute the largest segment of the $231 billion energy efficiency market, according to the World Green Building Council

In 2015, Greensoil PropTech Ventures launched a $59 million proptech venture fund and a $100 million fund in late 2020 to digitize and decarbonize the built environment. One of its portfolio companies, HVAC maker Oxygen8, has already benefited from PR messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic that promoted the well-being benefits of healthy air systems. More strategic communications will be necessary to explain how these ultra-efficient energy recovery systems can help businesses save money and reduce emissions.

Greensoil has also invested in CarbonCure, which uses technology to reduce the cement content of concrete, lowering carbon emissions without sacrificing strength. It also stores CO2 within the concrete, and could dramatically shrink the carbon footprint of the world's most used man-made material.

Few people realize that cement is the source of 8% of global carbon emissions. Effective communications campaigns could spread the word of innovations to investors, and to developers and owners to incorporate technologies. Plus, tenants are increasingly voting with their wallets when learning of sustainable places to live and work.

Despite the pandemic, proptech attracted $23.8 billion in 2020, according to the Center for Real Estate Technology & Innovation. With real estate, the largest asset class on the planet, sustainable proptech opens a new frontier for investors, entrepreneurs, consumers and public relations.

David Harris Kolada is managing partner at Greensoil PropTech Ventures of Toronto, which funds real-estate technology firms in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel.

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