July 20, 2024

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Buildings account for 39% of global greenhouse emissions — that could be an opportunity for investors

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Investing in sustainable buildings could offer a real solution to reducing emissions in one of the world’s most polluting sectors, said Taronga Ventures, an investment firm focused on sustainable innovation and tech.

Buildings currently represent 39% of global greenhouse emissions, according to U.N. data. Almost one-third (28%) of the global total is the result of running buildings — referred to as operational emissions, while 11% comes from building materials and construction.

“It is a widely unknown fact,” Avi Naidu, co-founder and managing director of Taronga Ventures told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Friday.

“Many people think that it’s transport, it’s methane, it’s food that is a big driver, but actually it’s the built environment,” said Naidu, whose company invests in innovation within real estate and construction.

Dispelling misconceptions

That lack of awareness, however, presents a “huge opportunity” for investors, said Naidu, noting that the technology and appetite for sustainable building solutions are already there.

“There is a misconception in markets and particularly from landlords [that] it will cost more. Absolutely, as technology is first introduced it sits higher on the cost curve, [but] as it gets more widely adopted we see it go further and further down the cost curve,” he said.

The exterior of the Parkroyal Hotel in Singapore.
VW Pics | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

“We’re also starting to see consumers and investors pay a premium for products and assets that are ESG aligned and much more sustainable,” he continued.

Environmental, social and governance — or ESG — investing has grown increasingly popular in recent years, mainly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“So a lot of the cost is being increasingly mitigated by the ability to command greater rents, greater asset values, and that’s really how landlords should be thinking about it,” he said.

Decarbonizing the economy

Decarbonizing the economy could be a market opportunity worth up to $30 trillion within the next two decades, according to Goldman Sachs.

For its part, Taronga Ventures is investing in green building solutions “across the value chain,” said Naidu. That includes design, construction, and operations, but also the repurposing and ultimate destruction of buildings.

As we build new stock, “we have an opportunity to think about different materials, different kinds of concrete, different methodologies that make the process safer, smarter and obviously, from a carbon perspective, more efficient,” he said.

Naidu’s comments come ahead of the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as COP26, in Glasgow in November, where world leaders will discuss efforts to combat the climate crisis.