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Climate and Construction: Brookfield commits to zero emissions electricity

John Bleasby
Climate and Construction: Brookfield commits to zero emissions electricity

Leading global property developer Brookfield Properties has announced its entire U.S. office portfolio will transition to zero emissions electricity by 2026.

Two-thirds of its buildings, including all those in New York and Washington, D.C., will complete the transition sooner, by 2024, establishing Brookfield as the largest commercial real estate user of zero emissions electricity in the United States.

To achieve its objective, Brookfield intends to procure electricity for its U.S. office properties from hydropower, solar, wind and nuclear generation. Doing so will avoid the emission of over 260,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents each year, or put another way, reduce CO2 emissions equal to almost 300 million pounds of coal burned, the company said.

Brookfield believes its decision will provide leadership for others.

“Not only will it significantly advance our goal of transitioning our entire portfolio to net-zero carbon, but also we are confident that both the increased demand for zero emissions electricity it will create and the industry precedence it will set will be a game-changer for how state-of-the-art office buildings are powered throughout the country,” said Ben Brown, managing partner, Brookfield Real Estate.

This commitment ties into New York City’s sustainability requirements under Local Law 97. Buildings over 25,000 square feet must reduce their GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, and by 80 per cent by 2050. Meanwhile, Washington is using Energy Star 1-100 rating system to reach its 2050 energy reduction targets.


Leading commercial property developer and owner Brookfield Properties will transition its entire New York portfolio to zero-emissions electricity by 2024.
BROOKFIELD PROPERTIES — Leading commercial property developer and owner Brookfield Properties will transition its entire New York portfolio to zero-emissions electricity by 2024.


A 2022 Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) report says larger buildings represent over 80 per cent of U.S. commercial floor space. 

“There is an enormous opportunity to replicate and scale solutions for commercial electrification and ultimately to have an outsized impact in the building sector’s transition toward a clean, carbon-free future.”

Switching to renewable energy sources and embracing net-zero electricity as part of an overall energy efficiency strategy offers environmental and financial benefits. These are outlined in a recent white paper released by Rimkus, a consultancy specializing in construction management services and solutions for the built environment.

Smart design at the outset of a project’s conception or upgrade is a good first step. Embracing energy-efficient technologies that reduce energy consumption is another, such as LED lighting, HVAC updates and building automation systems that control these in association with building occupancy levels. If conditions permit on new or existing buildings, solar, wind and geothermal power could be used as well.

The RMI report suggests the Net Present Value (NPV) of such decisions can be very attractive. NPV is defined by Investopedia as, “a financial metric that seeks to capture the total value of an investment opportunity. A positive NPV means that, after accounting for the time value of money, you will make money if you proceed with the investment.”

“A full decarbonization package, including efficiency, electrification, winter heating peak demand

management, and solar PV, offers a neutral or positive 20-year NPV in nearly all

of the studied regions,” the RMI report says.

That includes cold winter climate cities like Chicago.

Rimkus also suggests net-zero energy buildings receive higher valuations in the resale market. In the meantime, they attract new tenants and retain existing ones due to improved daylight, indoor air quality and occupant health and productivity.

Rimkus also points out that, in a rapidly changing regulatory environment, “proactively converting to net-zero, building owners can ensure compliance with future regulations and avoid costly retrofits down the line.”

However, before any specific actions are undertaken, there must be energy audits to help understand the current situation.  Following this, the effective use of the data gathered is mandatory, a point emphasized by Cillian Casey of property operations platform developer CIM.

Many properties generate an impressive stream of data from an array of equipment and sensors, he says. Organizations need to understand how best to utilize their data and turn it into actionable insights that will guide decision-making.

Brookfield’s bold transition to zero emissions electricity sets a high bar of achievement for other property owners.

John Bleasby is a Coldwater, Ont.-based freelance writer. Send comments and Climate and Construction column ideas to

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