Climate Change Implications for Real Estate Portfolio Allocation: Industry Perspectives

Climate change affects real estate portfolios in several important ways. There is clear scientific consensus that both the clearing of land and the burning of fossil fuels create climate-changing carbon emissions. Energy use in buildings accounts for around a third of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than any other sector. Thus, changes to newly developed and existing buildings will play a significant role in mitigating climate change.

At the same time, climate change impacts are already being felt. These impacts, from extreme weather events to changes in natural resource availability, pose a threat to real estate assets because they may cause severe impairment to and even loss of individual buildings. Because a core principle of the real estate industry is creating and maintaining value, climate risks need to be understood and assessed, so that they can be addressed and managed to avoid detrimental impacts on value.

This research report examines risk assessment and management strategies aimed at addressing climate change within real estate portfolios. The report draws on a survey— conducted between August 2014 and early 2015—of 50 senior executives at leading real estate investment and management firms, mainly based in Europe. The survey investigated whether and how respondents recognise the threat of climate change, what impact they expect climate change to have on their sector, and what their current and anticipated business practices are in response.

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