Unpacking ESG for the Built Environment: Summer Reception
With up to 50% of global annual emissions coming from buildings (approximately 27% from building operations and 23% from construction), a diversity of solutions are urgently needed to hit emissions reductions targets. At @Dynamo Energy Hub, we kicked off summer by learning from experts working to decarbonize the built environment, and invited members who are leaders working on different aspects of this challenge to share their experience making buildings more sustainable.
Emily Chasan, the Director of Communications for Generate Capital, moderated the conversation drawing on her career as an ESG reporter and Generate’s leading position in green infrastructure development and energy efficient buildings. Her questions focused on how ESG financing and advising are pushing the building sector, as well as how buildings are being decarbonized in practice.
Credit Suisse‘s Angelica Nikolausson spoke about the importance of green financing, ESG KPIs and Credit Suisse’s role supporting corporations transition to ESG targets. She highlighted that currently only 10% of green bonds are real estate, but ESG KPIs related to buildings and energy efficiency apply to 30% of all green bonds. This demonstrates that measuring and managing buildings impacts everyone in the industry, not only the real estate sector. ESG KPIs are also impacting human capital management as well, with executives now being measured for ESG performance.
Chad Reed leads ESG initiatives across Hannon Armstrong’s portfolio of climate positive investments, which includes $9 Billion in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure assets. With over 300 energy efficiency projects in federal, state, local, and commercial buildings, energy efficiency makes up over $5 billion of their investment portfolio. To highlight their work in practice, he spoke about the federal government initiative Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC). Hannon Armstrong provides all the capital for the federal building retrofit, including HVAC, lighting, and building envelope upgrades, and is paid back over time with the savings gained through improved energy efficiency. He also spoke about the Biden Administration’s recent executive order that requires federal buildings to significantly cut emissions by 2030, and that power must be supplied by locally sourced clean energy to meet the 24/7 demand for at least half of this emissions reduction target. Additionally, it mandates the federal government must transition to a net-zero building portfolio by 2045.
The ESG Transition Company’s Founder and CEO, Greg Streiff is currently advising companies on meeting ESG targets, and reiterated the role of policy in meeting climate targets. He also spoke about the importance of NYC’s Local Laws that will push the building sector towards more energy efficient solutions. Policy and disclosure are important, and he celebrated initiatives like Local Law 88, which mandates more efficient lighting for spaces over 25,000 ft2 by 2025.
Amanda Kaminsky, Director, Sustainable Construction at Lendlease, focuses on building electrification, embodied carbon and the supply chain in her daily work, keeping a close eye on those materials with the largest embodied carbon impact such as concrete and steel. She shared a diversity of strategies that LendLease employs to reduce carbon emissions including exploring recycled glass as a cement replacement in concrete, considering alternative fuel options and electrification of construction equipment on site, as well as studying the impact of building materials on human health. “A big theme is electrification, electrification, electrification, whether building from scratch or renovating… making sure we’re electrifying as early and as comprehensively as possible, but also making sure that electrification is renewably powered.”
Many solutions are needed to reach the finish line of our decarbonization goal. The panelists spoke optimistically about other emerging solutions they hope will have an impact including carbon capture and storage, community solar, and solar integrated into the facade and windows of buildings, as well as stacking technologies and digital twinning for better building energy systems management in the years ahead.
Join us for Dynamo’s next event takes place in Boston on July 19th: Innovation in the Energy Transition: Summer Soiree
Emily Chasan is director of communications for Generate Capital, where she leads internal and external communications and works on ESG strategy for the company which builds owns, operates and finances sustainable infrastructure in power, mobility and waste. Prior to the role, she was sustainable finance editor at Bloomberg News, where she pioneered the news organization’s coverage of ESG, sustainability and impact investing.
Chad Reed leads Strategic Initiatives and ESG for Hannon Armstrong (NYSE: HASI), a leading investor in climate solutions with more than $9 billion of climate positive managed assets. He also leads the Hannon Armstrong Foundation and co-hosts the Climate Positive Podcast. He was named to NIRI’s 30 under 40 Class of 2021. Previously, he served in various roles, including structured finance, risk management, ESG, and investor relations with TerraForm Power – an integrated renewable energy company affiliated with Brookfield Asset Management. Chad started his career as an intelligence officer operating primarily in the Middle East. He holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Angelica Nikolausson is responsible for ESG and sustainability initiatives across the investment bank, advising clients on sustainability strategies, ESG positioning and reporting, climate risk and transition strategies, sustainable products and investment solutions, and capital allocation strategies.
Amanda Kaminsky is Director of Sustainable Construction for Lendlease’s Americas portfolio. Building on a couple decades of deep collaboration with multidisciplinary teams to initiate lasting industry improvements in the field, Amanda is continuing this work at scale with Lendlease. Previously, Amanda established and led Building Product Ecosystems LLC to pilot improvements to product, process, standards, and infrastructure on behalf of building owners, their design and construction teams, supply chains, recycling networks, and impacted communities, engaging regional policy makers and academic research as needed.
Greg Streiff is the founder and CEO of The ESG Transition Company. He started his career covering the energy and power sector as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. With a passion for environmental issues, he went on to work for companies focused on sustainability and the energy transition. He founded The ESG Transition Co. in 2021 with the intent of helping, often underserved, small and midsize businesses achieve their environmental/ethical goals and make the world a more sustainable place.