Hines, the global real estate firm, announced today that it is setting a target of net-zero operational carbon by 2040. Operational carbon refers to greenhouse gases that are emitted while operating a building. Hines will seek to accomplish this goal by reducing emissions through renewable technologies, and without purchasing carbon offsets, as their benefits can be difficult to quantify. By heavily investing in sustainable initiatives throughout its portfolio of 1,530 properties in 285 cities across 28 countries, the company is seeking to accelerate its mission to help combat the global climate crisis.
Adhering to science-based targets, which provide companies with a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals, and its use of proprietary tools and innovative practices, Hines strives to secure its status as a sustainability leader throughout the real estate industry, a sector that emits nearly 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions.To achieve this science-based goal, Hines will work to reduce carbon throughout its portfolio by electrifying fossil fuel-based systems within its buildings, utilizing circular systems principles to reduce energy waste and increase system efficiency, and pursuing onsite and off-site renewables that promote renewable energy development. Hines is establishing agreements with third-party partners to provide data to track progress on energy consumption and ongoing emissions reductions.
“As the impact of climate change is becoming increasingly integrated into our lives every day, the real estate industry has a responsibility to acknowledge this growing problem and take meaningful action to reduce our collective carbon emissions,” said Jeff Hines, the chairman and co-chief executive officer of Hines. “By seeking to achieve net-zero operational carbon without relying on offsets, Hines wants to raise the bar for sustainability and invest in a plan designed to achieve significant and tangible results.”
Hines has also recently published its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report, which highlights actions the global real estate firm is putting into place at properties around the globe. Featured in the ESG report, Hines highlights some of its current carbon reduction efforts that include case studies on 555 Greenwich in New York and aer in Munich. While some of these efforts will need to continue to evolve and become increasingly more ambitious to align with Hines’ net zero goal, they demonstrate that Hines is invested in doing the work and has already begun to make meaningful progress towards a lower carbon future.
555 Greenwich is anticipated to be one of the first office developments in New York City that provides a circular energy infrastructure. Traditional systems continuously exhaust heat and rely heavily on fossil fuels to produce heat, which in turn emits harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. 555 Greenwich is integrating geothermal piles, thermally active radiant slabs, a dedicated outdoor air system, and a fully electrified heating system to reduce carbon emissions and improve occupant experience. Energy simulations suggest that 555 Greenwich will reduce operational carbon by 45%, electricity consumptions by 25% and save 800,000 gallons of water per year – exceeding the New York City 2030 carbon targets by 50%.
In 2020, the Hines European Value Fund 2 (HEVF2) acquired Fritz9 in Neuperlach, a Munich-area submarket that has become home to several clean-energy businesses. The vision for value creation is an innovative, multi-use office campus that is connected to the city and appeals to business tenants and young professionals. Hines is pursuing a new zoning plan for one of the buildings to move it from 100% commercial to office and residential. Hines is aiming to refurbish and transform the second building on the site into aer, an efficient, high-quality office. The project team is prioritizing several key ESG initiatives that are in line with the HEVF 2 fund strategy including: refurbishment and use of recycled materials when possible; utilizing timber and hybrid construction to reduce embodied carbon; use of geothermal energy and ecological electricity to optimize everyday operations; and implementing interior greenery, as part of the design aesthetic and to naturally enhance air quality and occupant wellbeing. When the refurbishment is complete in 2023, aer aspires to achieve net zero operations. The building will be “smart ready,” equipped with smart-metering sensors throughout, and a proprietary app developed by Hines in Germany will enable tenants to measure and manage its energy consumption.