Last month’s CoreNet Global North America Summit in Denver brought together residential and corporate real estate professionals. The event served as a platform for leaders and experts to share insights on navigating the ever-evolving and dynamic landscapes of the industry, including climate change.
Climate change is the single largest existential threat of our lifetime, and decarbonizing existing buildings is one of our greatest opportunities to curb it. In Colorado, buildings represent the third-largest contributor, making up about 20% of statewide emissions – and as many in the industry are aware, the worldwide built environment is one of the highest emitting sectors, producing an estimated 40% of global CO2 emissions. For precisely these reasons, I focused my CoreNet presentation, “Getting Your Buildings to Net Zero: Perspectives from a Manufacturing Company,” on bringing net zero buildings to the forefront of an event focused on commercial properties.
I have both the responsibility and qualifications to champion net zero. When I joined USGBC, LEED was in 35 countries with 6.5 billion square feet of adoption. By my departure in 2021, that number reached 28 billion square feet. We’d expanded LEED to 182 countries and territories and created a $2 trillion industry. What we achieved with the widespread awareness and adoption of LEED was extraordinary, but I was always asking myself the pressing question that’s at the heart of climate mitigation efforts: What’s next?
That’s why in December 2021, I and a select group of my colleagues, decided to build on that momentum and create an organization and a platform that answered that question. What’s next after awareness and adoption? It’s accelerating – at scale – the decarbonization of existing buildings, and the pursuit of a zero-emissions world.
I launched the Global Network for Zero (GNFZ), with a mission to empower people and organizations to accelerate the realization of a zero emissions world. Now the world’s premier independent net zero certification body, we provide independent third-party certification for existing buildings, portfolios, businesses and more. Our certification is based on the industry-leading GHG Protocol and available through a platform that calculates a building’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. It enables buildings and businesses to calculate and assess their emissions, set a net zero plan, identify best-in-class strategies to implement to achieve their targets, and independently verifies and certifies their net zero achievements. And our certification process takes an incremental approach that provides clients with multiple opportunities for recognition along the accelerated pathway to complete net zero certification.
My presentation at CoreNet not only introduced the audience to GNFZ’s mission, platform and our net zero certification for existing buildings, but it also showcased a landmark case study for how the platform works. The diamond industry is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, but our founding partner, India’s Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt. Ltd. (SRK), set a goal not only to achieve net zero but outlined a global model for what’s possible in sustainable manufacturing.
Valued at over $1.6 billion USD, SRK is already deeply committed to global leadership in ESG and community improvement. In addition to contributing a portion of its net profit to investing in solar projects, empowering business leaders for net zero strategies, supporting education, ensuring diamond traceability, and participating in global sustainability, the company operates two of the top five highest performing LEED buildings in the world. SRK aligns with 14 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and is currently working on the remaining three.
This is all underscored by SRK’s steadfast pursuit of and commitment to achieving zero emissions. The ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030 is four decades ahead of India’s national net zero goal of 2070. The SRK team is diligently implementing comprehensive strategies to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, incorporating sustainable practices like biogas plants, solar power and waste reduction. And SRK’s dedication extends beyond net zero carbon emissions, encompassing net zero energy, water and waste.
SRK’s two craftsmanship facilities, SRK House and SRK Empire, are on track for net zero certification with GNFZ by the end of 2024 – a full six years ahead of the company’s initial commitment. SRK aims to set a national and global standard for accelerated decarbonization across operations in the manufacturing sector. Looking ahead, their priorities include ongoing certification compliance, supporting other organizations in achieving net zero targets before 2050 and fostering climate technology startups.
SRK is truly an example of success for those looking to green their buildings and business practices, and they’re just one of our many clients paving the way to a net zero future. The GNFZ platform is accessible to all, and we are actively welcoming clients, partners, reviewers and network members to join us on our journey to deliver net zero certification. With a promise of leaving no business or building behind, our goal is to create an inclusive and innovative community that provides incremental access to net zero transformation, and that ensures accelerated decarbonization in the manufacturing sector is within reach today and in perpetuity.