Businesses Push for Greener Buildings Despite Trump Rhetoric

By on October 9, 2018

From St. Louis Business Journal:  Not long after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate change agreement, Christian Ulbrich, chief executive of JLL, found himself in a room full of leaders of US companies.

The head of the global real estate services group heard another chief executive ask whether anyone in the room supported the Paris accord. “He said it in a way that you felt embarrassed to say yes,” Mr Ulbrich recalls.

He and another corporate chief, both of European origin, sheepishly raised their hands.

German-born Mr Ulbrich may have been in a minority in that room, but in the world of real estate, the direction of travel is the opposite of Mr Trump’s. In 2016 — the most recent year for which figures are available — developers spent $406bn on energy efficiency in construction, about 9 per cent of worldwide construction and renovation spending, according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.

JLL, which has its headquarters in Chicago, now has 274 sustainability specialists among its staff, while its biggest rival, CBRE, has 220. JLL’s environmental work was unusual when it began about 20 years ago. Now, the group must compete with a variety of other consultancies to advise corporates on green buildings.

Despite the reluctance of some chief executives to oppose the Trump line, Mr Ulbrich says the impetus for change is coming from big corporates. “Originally we were pushing [sustainability],” he says, adding that as recently as five years ago, clients would often respond: “Fine, but I’m not going to pay for it.”

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