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Climate Positive, Proof Positive

Mandy Qian • 28/07/2022

Selected Climate-Positive Approaches and Proof-Positive Rating and Benchmarking Systems for Sustainable Real Estate

Cushman & Wakefield today released its Climate Positive, Proof Positive: Selected Climate-Positive Approaches and Proof-Positive Rating and Benchmarking Systems for Sustainable Real Estate report. According to an estimate by the United Nations, globally, the built environment is responsible for around 40% of energy and carbon emissions. In this context, the promotion of the climate positive concept and sustainable development within the real estate sector is undoubtedly a key step which China could take when looking to achieve its carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals in the future. 
What is climate positive?
Climate positive is an initiative that goes above and beyond. Here, net zero carbon emissions are achieved and surpassed whereby an environmental benefit is produced by eradicating additional carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
The basic workings of climate positive
Basic Workings of Climate Positive
Source: Cushman & Wakefield Research
Buildings can realize climate-positive results in a number of ways, including:
  • Choice of building location
  • Choice of building design and energy modelling
  • Usage of eco-friendly, low carbon, reused or recycled materials
  • Minimization of material and operational wastage
  • Maximization of structural efficiency
  • Use of building insulation
  • Regular maintenance of plant, machinery, sensors and devices and ensuring these systems have the latest technology
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction systems
  • Use of renewable energy
  • Use of intelligent energy management systems
  • Maximization of water use reduction
  • Reuse or renewal of the building upon current-use obsolescence
Rating and benchmarking systems that are used to positively prove how sustainable real estate is and how sustainable an enterprise is, (and if any are able to achieve a climate-positive outcome), are many. Two systems that have gained market traction recently, however, are: 
1. At the enterprise level: The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
The TCFD system allows enterprises to recognize and disclose climate-related risks and opportunities so as to enable informed decision making for investors, lenders, insurers and other related participants. The use of the TCFD system aids enterprises as they ascertain and handle physical and transition climate risks. 
The TCFD framework
The TCFD Framework
Source:, Cushman & Wakefield Research
2. At the real estate level: The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB).
GRESB assesses the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real assets, which include real estate. In terms of environmental issues, the rating system encourages enterprises to reduce GHG emissions, lessen wastage, and conserve water and energy.
The GRESB benchmark
The GRESB Benchmark
Source: GRESB, Cushman & Wakefield Research
Today, these two systems have gained solid market traction and are widely used by many enterprises to help them achieve their sustainability goals. 
Shaun Brodie, Head of Occupier Research, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield said, “Cushman & Wakefield aims to reach net zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2050. In the context of the carbon peak and carbon neutrality objective in China and global warming, there are still some people, enterprises, and localities that may not have the resources or plans in place to lessen their individual carbon footprint, to go carbon negative or even to strive for a climate positive goal. By understanding the concept of climate positive and learning how to implement some of the related green rating and benchmarking systems these groups of people and organizations will be best placed to achieve sustainability targets that actually add positive benefit value to the environment now and into the future.”
Alton Wong, Co-head of Sustainability Services Platform, Greater China, Head of Advisory Services, Valuation & Advisory Services, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “Since the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in 2021, one significant development has been the formation of a new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to develop, in the public interest, an all-embracing global baseline for high-quality disclosure standards to meet the needs of investors. Once used, it will greatly affect the future development of Chinese enterprises.” 
Corrine Chen, Acting Co-head of Sustainability Services Platform, Greater China, Acting Head of Project & Development Services, West China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, "The built environment can reduce its emissions by going net zero, but some real estate enterprises today are looking to go climate positive, an initiative that goes above and beyond. Cushman & Wakefield is committed to helping enterprises achieve their sustainability goals.”
Please click here to download the full report.
About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms in the world, with approximately 50,000 employees in over 400 offices and 60 countries. In Greater China, a network of 23 offices serves local markets across the region, earning recognition and winning multiple awards for industry-leading performance. In 2021, the firm had revenue of $9.4 billion across core services including valuation, consulting, project & development services, capital markets, project & occupier services, industrial & logistics, retail and others. To learn more, visit or follow @CushWake on Twitter.

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