Understanding GHG Emissions in the Real Estate Sector

Inaki gonzalez
January 11, 2023

The real estate sector is responsible for approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To calculate the carbon emissions of buildings, the energy consumed by the asset is converted into carbon equivalent emissions (kgCO2e) using emissions factors (EFs) provided by environmental agencies such as the EPA. The carbon footprint is divided into three scopes: direct emissions, such as those caused by fossil fuels and refrigerant leakages occurring within the site boundaries (Scope 1), and indirect emissions, which come from purchased sources (electricity) (Scope 2) and from the supply chain (Scope 3).

GHG emissions released by the built environment can be categorized into operational carbon, caused by the energy consumed by building-integrated technical systems during the operation of the building, and embodied carbon, caused by the construction, maintenance, and disposal of the building. This data must be converted into a common unit to understand, track, and report the environmental impact. The most commonly used unit of GHG intensity in real estate is kgCO2e/m²/year (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per square meter per year). This intensity varies depending on different building types, building use profiles, and the GHG intensity of local energy markets (Utility provider).

It is essential for the industry to take measures to reduce their operational carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy sources to comply with different regulations and stakeholder demands to decarbonize building operations. By doing so, the sector can help mitigate the impact of climate change and contribute to a more sustainable future.

For more information on carbon accounting principles, visit https://carbonaccountingfinancials.com/files/consultation-2022/202205-public-consultation-real-estate.pdf.

Contact us at www.globalcarbonesg.com or email inaki@globalcarbonesg.com to learn more about how our technology can help you automate all carbon accounting processes (collecting data, converting it to CO2 equivalents based on the emissions factor by location, banchmarking and reporting), help you comply with current regulations, and future proof your business.

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