Presented By: Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield Sets Ambitious Targets to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world’s leading real estate services firms, recently announced measures designed to achieve net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2050 by reducing its own and its clients’ impact on the environment.
“Furthering our environmental commitment is necessary for our business, clients and the planet,” said John Forrester, president of Cushman & Wakefield (CWK). “Rising to that challenge within our own real estate and the portfolios of our clients with stretching goals is the central task to deliver a sustainable built environment. With buildings generating a very significant portion of the world’s carbon emissions, we see an enormous opportunity to influence the future and generate a more positive impact on the environment.”
The firm announced targets that have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a partnership of organizations — including the United Nations Global Compact — that certifies companies have set emissions reduction targets aligned with the latest climate science. In addition to its SBTi-approved reduction targets, Cushman & Wakefield pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 through SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Cushman & Wakefield has been at the forefront of data collection and reporting regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for years. This reporting became a regulatory requirement when Cushman & Wakefield went public in 2018, although the company has been voluntarily calculating and reporting its GHG emissions since 2015.
“When we started disclosing greenhouse gas emissions as part of our U.K. Annual Report, we started enhancing our focus on them,” said Haley Friedlich, director of global corporate social responsibility and senior manager of corporate relations and policy at Cushman & Wakefield. “That disclosure shortened the yearly timeline for reporting, so we had to make sure we had as efficient and complete a data management system as possible, and from there, we started talking about future goals we should be considering.”
As part of its larger overall commitment to reaching net zero, Cushman & Wakefield committed to a 50 percent reduction in scopes 1 and 2 market-based GHG emissions — which include direct emissions and those purchased from heat and electricity, respectively — by 2030 from a 2019 base year.
In addition to reductions from its corporate operations, another target addresses Cushman & Wakefield’s scope 3 emissions — indirect emissions from its value chain including business travel, employee commuting and facilities it manages on behalf of clients.
“In preparation for setting these targets, we screened all relevant emission-source categories,” Friedlich said. “Those are direct emissions, those purchased from utilities and then upstream and downstream supply chain. Our downstream supply chain includes our property and facility management services — client buildings and facilities we manage and have operational influence over. We found that this category of emissions accounts for over 99 percent of our total emissions.”
As such, Cushman & Wakefield will be engaging with key facility/property management clients to encourage them to set their own science-based targets by 2025.
There are many steps Cushman & Wakefield is taking to reduce the firm’s as well as its clients’ carbon footprints. Cushman & Wakefield offers comprehensive sustainability services to help clients achieve their goals across their operations in a variety of areas, including energy, water, GHG emissions, CSR reporting, travel, materials selection, procurement, waste, construction, leasing and more.
The firm also believes environmentally friendly buildings improve employee experience and make for healthier, happier occupants.
“As people have been returning to offices or are planning to in the future, Cushman & Wakefield and our clients are thinking about the purpose of workspaces and how the office can be best optimized for connection and collaboration,” Friedlich said. “While there’s still a lot of uncertainty about what that will look like in the future, we do think short-term measures taken because of COVID, like enhanced cleaning, better air filtration or access to fresh air, will extend to the longer-term trend of employee wellness and physically healthy spaces.”
“And, as the focus on healthy workplaces increases, LEED, WELL, ENERGY STAR, Fitwel and others provide standards and strategies for making buildings more sustainable,” Friedlich added. “Through their rating systems, our teams can make a case for companies’ investments and track which tactics have the largest impact on reducing their carbon footprint while increasing productivity and well-being. We’re excited to continue offering these services and ramping up our efforts as we work with clients to achieve our targets.”
As just one recent example, Cushman & Wakefield’s Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) team has been assisting property owners and managers throughout the pandemic by tracking building performance through ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, a tool that measures and benchmarks building energy performance. ESS provides full project management oversight to help properties achieve ENERGY STAR-certification, including review of utility bill data and building information, energy benchmarking design and application preparation and verification by a licensed professional engineer.
According to the firm’s CSR Report, Cushman & Wakefield provided energy and sustainability services for 370 million square feet of space in the U.S. alone in 2020.
While Cushman & Wakefield wasn’t necessarily looking to make a statement with its new targets, the company is cognizant of how making such bold moves can have an impact on the industry, and welcomes the chance to ignite a positive movement toward reducing GHGs.
“We’re proud of this sort of crawl, walk, run experience that we had, because it wasn’t reactive; It wasn’t caused by outside pressure,” Friedlich said. “This approach is us saying, we have the data and the expertise to do this, and we see a viable pathway for it. With that, though, we are thrilled to be in one of the industry-leading positions, and absolutely hope to have a positive influence. We want other companies to come across our targets and our process, see that we set really solid targets that are aligned with science, and say, that’s a good way to go about it.”
In taking this stance, Cushman & Wakefield hopes to both move the needle in the right direction on curbing the presence of GHGs in the atmosphere, and use its influence in the commercial real estate industry to help other firms set a course for a similar path forward.
“We’re excited to have Cushman & Wakefield join leading companies in setting ambitious targets that are rooted in science,” Forrester said. “It’s critical that we challenge the business community to look at the bigger picture and appreciate that our work goes beyond the present moment and will impact generations to come. This is a responsibility and an undertaking we can only accomplish together.”