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Report Summary:

Greening Buildings for Healthier People identifies building-scale opportunities to simultaneously and cost-effectively accelerate action on climate change and health, maximize their co-benefits, and manage any tensions between them. As a short primer, the report:

  • Explicitly makes the links between climate change and health strategies for a real estate audience;
  • Compiles opportunities for health-promoting investments in climate mitigation and resilience in one accessible document; and
  • Demonstrates the case for taking an integrated approach to health and climate strategies, including the many benefits for tenants, communities, and real estate.

These opportunities exist throughout the development life cycle and include both tactical design choices and strategic real estate decisions. By acting efficiently and holistically, real estate professionals can overcome barriers to implementing climate mitigation, resilience, and health measures at the same time, so that tenants and communities, the industry, and the planet can thrive well into the future.

Please provide any feedback on this report here. All comments are welcome and help the Building Healthy Places Initiative develop future publications.

Key Takeaways

  • These strategies have many benefits for tenants, communities, and real estate. This report demonstrates the business case for real estate and describes how even one building can have an outsized impact for tenants and communities.
  • Sustainability and health goals are often compatible. Although tension can exist between these goals in some instances, this report demonstrates the many ways in which climate and health do not have to compete and can even complement each other.
  • Combining strategies can accelerate progress toward multiple goals at the same time. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a quick mobilization to improve indoor air quality and other health measures in buildings. Using this momentum to simultaneously work on health and climate solutions can help accelerate progress on both fronts.
  • Flexibility is essential. Whether designing spaces that accommodate different ideal temperatures, ventilating office zones based on occupancy, or creating community rooms that can also serve as resilience hubs, flexibility is key to developing and managing buildings that can accomplish multiple goals at once.
  • Equity must be at the core. The public health benefits of mitigating climate change affect everyone, but they have a disproportionate benefit for populations that are made vulnerable to climate impacts through their location, income, or existing health conditions. Equitable development practices can help ensure that new buildings extend their health and climate benefits to the whole community.

Report Overview

The audience includes developers, owners, and operators, but tenants can also use this report to learn about these strategies and advocate for them in their buildings, and architects can make the case for healthy green buildings to their building owner and developer clients. The report discusses 48 strategies within eight opportunities for promoting health while advancing climate mitigation and/or resilience. The opportunities are:

  1. Site Selection
  2. New Building and Site Design
  3. Electrification and Decarbonization
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Building Materials
  6. Acquisition and Disposition
  7. Leasing
  8. Property Management, Operations, and Tenant Improvements

This report focuses on buildings because of the cross-cutting opportunities to contribute to climate mitigation, resilience, and health that they offer. Buildings generate nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions, more than half of U.S. buildings are in disaster hotspots, and Americans spend, on average, 90 percent of their time inside buildings. Although the strategies focus on new buildings, many can be applied to existing buildings as well.

Although the report focuses on synergies between strategies tackling climate change and health, it also notes instances of tension. For example, increasing the percentage of outdoor air may improve air quality, but it also requires more fan power and may increase energy consumption. However, it is often possible to manage these tensions in ways that optimize their co-benefits.

Report Summary: Greening Buildings for Healthier People identifies building-scale opportunities to simultaneously and cost-effectively accelerate action on climate change and health, maximize their co-benefits, and manage any tensions between them. As a short primer, the report:

  • Explicitly makes the links between climate change and health strategies for a real estate audience;
  • Compiles opportunities for health-promoting investments in climate mitigation and resilience in one accessible document; and
  • Demonstrates the case for taking an integrated approach to health and climate strategies, including the many benefits for tenants, communities, and real estate.

These opportunities exist throughout the development life cycle and include both tactical design choices and strategic real estate decisions. By acting efficiently and holistically, real estate professionals can overcome barriers to implementing climate mitigation, resilience, and health measures at the same time, so that tenants and communities, the industry, and the planet can thrive well into the future.

Please provide any feedback on this report here. All comments are welcome and help the Building Healthy Places Initiative develop future publications.

Key Takeaways

  • These strategies have many benefits for tenants, communities, and real estate. This report demonstrates the business case for real estate and describes how even one building can have an outsized impact for tenants and communities.
  • Sustainability and health goals are often compatible. Although tension can exist between these goals in some instances, this report demonstrates the many ways in which climate and health do not have to compete and can even complement each other.
  • Combining strategies can accelerate progress toward multiple goals at the same time. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a quick mobilization to improve indoor air quality and other health measures in buildings. Using this momentum to simultaneously work on health and climate solutions can help accelerate progress on both fronts.
  • Flexibility is essential. Whether designing spaces that accommodate different ideal temperatures, ventilating office zones based on occupancy, or creating community rooms that can also serve as resilience hubs, flexibility is key to developing and managing buildings that can accomplish multiple goals at once.
  • Equity must be at the core. The public health benefits of mitigating climate change affect everyone, but they have a disproportionate benefit for populations that are made vulnerable to climate impacts through their location, income, or existing health conditions. Equitable development practices can help ensure that new buildings extend their health and climate benefits to the whole community.

Report Overview

The audience includes developers, owners, and operators, but tenants can also use this report to learn about these strategies and advocate for them in their buildings, and architects can make the case for healthy green buildings to their building owner and developer clients. The report discusses 48 strategies within eight opportunities for promoting health while advancing climate mitigation and/or resilience. The opportunities are:

  1. Site Selection
  2. New Building and Site Design
  3. Electrification and Decarbonization
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Building Materials
  6. Acquisition and Disposition
  7. Leasing
  8. Property Management, Operations, and Tenant Improvements

This report focuses on buildings because of the cross-cutting opportunities to contribute to climate mitigation, resilience, and health that they offer. Buildings generate nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions, more than half of U.S. buildings are in disaster hotspots, and Americans spend, on average, 90 percent of their time inside buildings. Although the strategies focus on new buildings, many can be applied to existing buildings as well.

Although the report focuses on synergies between strategies tackling climate change and health, it also notes instances of tension. For example, increasing the percentage of outdoor air may improve air quality, but it also requires more fan power and may increase energy consumption. However, it is often possible to manage these tensions in ways that optimize their co-benefits.

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