US-DOE Lauds CRE’s Efficiency Gains and Carbon Reductions

Roundtable members are among the commercial real estate partners recognized in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Initiative 2023 progress report released on Monday. This voluntary public-private partnership with more than 900 participating organizations has collectively saved $18.5 billion through energy efficiency improvements, and cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 190 million metric tons, since its launch in 2011. (DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative Report and PoliticoPro, Oct. 23)

DOE’s CRE Partners

  • This week’s Progress Report from DOE shows that more than 165 partners from various industry sectors who participate in its separate Better Climate Challenge have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (scope 1 and 2) by at least 50% over 10 years without the use of offsets. The report’s outstanding GHG Emissions Reduction Goal Achievers include companies led by RER members.
  • The Real Estate Roundtable and several of its partner real estate organizations—including the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), Building Owners & Managers Association International (BOMA), Pension Real Estate Association (PREA), and Urban Land Institute (ULI)—are noted in the report as Industry Organization Partners.
  • U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said, “To meet President Biden’s ambitious climate goals, the public and private sector need practical pathways to reduce emissions while cutting costs—and that’s exactly what they get from DOE’s Better Building Initiative.” (DOE news release and the report’s Commercial Real Estate Sector Spotlight)

Tools and Best Practices

  • DOE’s partners represent almost every sector of the American economy: nearly 30 of the country’s Fortune 100 companies, nearly 20 of the top 50 U.S. employers, 14% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, and 13% of total commercial building space, as well as more than 90 state and local governments.
  • The DOE report also provides case studies for collaborations across sectors to access insights, strategies, and through the agency’s “Decarbonization Resource Hub.”

DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative website provides extensive resources on the agency’s wide-ranging effort to partner with leaders in the public and private sectors to make the nation’s commercial buildings, industrial plants, and homes more energy-efficient by accelerating investment and sharing successful best practices.

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White House Announces Federal Building Performance Standards

The White House

The White House on Wednesday released a new standard to reduce scope 1 “direct” emissions from fossil fuels combusted to heat and cool federal buildings. (CNBC |UPI | PoliticoPro, Dec. 7)

Federal Building Performance Standard (BPS)

  • The Federal BPS from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) applies to the 300,000 existing buildings owned by the U.S. government. It sets a 2030 goal for each federal agency to eliminate scope 1 emissions in 30% of its facilities. (White House Fact Sheet)

  • The Federal BPS “prioritiz[es] energy efficiency and the elimination of on-site fossil fuel use.” It is a stepping-stone toward the Biden administration’s ultimate goal of “net zero” emissions by 2045 across all federal facilities. (Exec. Order 14057, Dec. 8, 2021)

  • The Federal BPS’s “performance pathway” would achieve the goal for zero scope 1 emissions “through efficient electrification of all equipment and appliances.”

  • The Federal BPS also offers a “prescriptive pathway” for specific replacement of gas-fired furnaces and boilers. This alternate compliance route recognizes that “full decarbonization may not be practicable today” considering a building’s size and climate zone—and is designed to account for the market availability and cost-effectiveness of electrification equipment.

Relevance to Other GHG Standards

Energy.gov map of BPS
  • While the Federal BPS intends to reduce on-site scope 1 emissions, it will likely increase scope 2 emissions from electricity purchased by the federal government to power electric heat pumps, hot water heaters, and similar equipment.

  • Furthermore, the Federal BPS—and its focus to reduce fossil fuels on-site—might set an easier standard compared to a number of emerging BPS mandates at the state and municipal level.

  • Some local BPS laws may effectively require buildings to reduce overall GHG emissions at their source, which depends on whether local power grids provide “clean” electricity from solar, wind, or other renewable energy. EPA data that profiles “fuel mixes” used to generate electricity, however, indicate that coal, gas and other non-renewables account for 80 percent of the fuels that power electric grids nationally.

  • Also, local BPS laws may not offer a “prescriptive” compliance path similar to the Federal BPS that contemplates cost effectiveness in building electrification retrofits.

  • Notably, the Federal BPS sets no requirements for U.S.-owned buildings to reduce their upstream and downstream “scope 3” emissions outside of an owners’ control. (EPA website)

  • Possible measurement and reporting of scope 3 emissions has been a controversial element of a private sector, corporate GHG disclosure rule proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that has not yet been finalized. (Roundtable Weekly, June 10)

Other Building Policies  

Department of Energy sign
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also on Wednesday proposed a rule that would establish the first-ever emissions standards for new federal construction and major renovations. Like the Federal BPS for existing federal assets, DOE’s proposed rule “aims to accelerate” electrification by phasing out on-site fossil fuel usage for heating and hot water. (DOE news release)

  • The White House also announced this week that California has joined the National Building Performance Standards Coalition, a group of over 30 states and localities committed to adopt BPS policies by Earth Day 2024. (White House Fact Sheet)

The White House’s announcements touted DOE’s Better Climate Challenge—a voluntary “pledge” that includes Roundtable members as “partners” who have committed to reduce portfolio-wide scopes 1 and 2 emissions by at least 50% within 10 years. The Roundtable is an “ally” supporting DOE’s Challenge. (Roundtable Weekly, March 4)

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Senate and House Pass The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, following passage by the House today and the Senate on Sunday. After weeks of negotiations, the comprehensive economic package primarily brokered by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) reflects Democratic priorities to combat climate change, reduce prescription drug costs, and lower the deficit by roughly $300 billion over the next decade. (Washington Post, Aug. 7; Roundtable Weekly, July 29)

Why It Matters

  • After Congress passed the IRA today, President Biden stated, “With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in the House, families will see lower prescription drug prices, lower health care costs, and lower energy costs. I look forward to signing it into law next week” (Twitter, Aug. 12 | Wall Street Journal, Aug. 12)
  • The $790 billion reconciliation proposal includes nearly $370 billion in climate spending that affects “clean energy” measures important to commercial real estate, the largest federal clean energy investment in U.S. history. (NPR, Aug. 7) (see story below)

CRE Impact

Jeffrey DeBoer, Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented today, “The revised Inflation Reduction Act is a welcome step toward boosting economic growth by spurring extensive investments in clean energy and climate measures that benefit both our industry and our country. We applaud Congress for recognizing and protecting the critical role of carried interest provisions in incentivizing the risk-taking necessary for robust economic development. We look forward to working with our partners in industry and government to implement this legislation.”

  • Proposed changes to the taxation of carried interest were cut from the IRA last week at the request of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The Roundtable and 14 other national real estate organizations wrote to all members of Congress on Aug. 3 in strong opposition to the measure. (Coalition letter, Aug. 3 | Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 5 )
  • The IRA’s largest tax increase is a 15% corporate minimum tax on businesses with profits over $1 billion whose reported book income exceeds reported taxable income. The measure is estimated to raise $313 billion.
  • The final bill includes a 1 percent tax on what public companies spend on stock buybacks. However, it did not include any changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.  (CQ, Aug. 7)
  • The package also includes protections that would preserve the value of the low-income housing tax credit for investors (typically large banks) that use the credit to reduce their effective tax rate.
In the coming weeks, The Roundtable will continue updating summaries of the tax and energy provisions in the IRA while also analyzing the direct and indirect impact on commercial real estate. (See below for Clean Energy Tax Incentives Fact Sheet)

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Roundtable “Fact Sheet” Summarizes Inflation Reduction Act’s “Clean Energy” Tax Incentives Important to Real Estate

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that passed Congress today (see story above) – “includes the largest expenditures ever made by the federal government to slow global warming.” (New York Times, Aug. 7) The bill “would spend nearly $370 billion on a raft of tax credits to help stimulate adoption of clean energy technologies.” (POLITICO, July 28)

Key CRE Credits and Deductions (RER Fact Sheet

A number of the IRA’s revisions to the federal tax code can help the U.S. real estate sector reduce GHG emissions. The Real Estate Roundtable has prepared a fact sheet summarizing key IRA incentives, including:

  • A revised tax deduction at Section 179D, to encourage existing commercial building “retrofit” projects that cut energy consumption by at least 25%;
  • A revised tax credit at Section 45L, to encourage new energy efficient multifamily construction;
  • An expanded tax credit at Section 48,  to support investments in solar, combined heat and power, microturbines, energy storage, dynamic glass, grid interconnection, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, and other clean energy technologies;
  • A new code section to allow businesses that cannot typically benefit from tax incentives because of income limitations (such as REITs) to transfer certain credits to unrelated third parties.

The Senate Finance Committee has provided a summary of all incentives in the IRA’s “Energy Security” Subtitle D. 

Roundtable Advocacy

Capitol building sun and green

  • The Roundtable has long advocated for code changes that can make clean energy incentives more usable for building owners, managers, designers, and financiers. (See Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 19 and May 28, 2021).
  • The IRA includes a number of The Roundtable’s recommended changes. As our analysis of Subtitle D continues, RER’s fact sheet will be updated and revised.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is expected to issue multiple regulations and guidance documents in the coming months that implement the new law. The Roundtable will provide comments as new rules are proposed to help accelerate the CRE industry’s investments in tackling the climate crisis.

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Proposed Carried Interest Provisions, Opposed by Real Estate Industry, Cut From Reconciliation Bill

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) at RER's 2022 Spring MeetingProposed changes to the taxation of carried interest were cut from Senate Democrats’ broad Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) yesterday at the request of centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The Roundtable and 14 other national real estate organizations wrote to all members of Congress on Aug. 3 in strong opposition to the measure. (Coalition letter, Aug. 3 | Wall Street Journal, Aug. 4 |Tax Notes, Aug. 5). Photo above: Sen. Sinema at The Roundtable’s 2022 Spring Meeting.

Vote on Revised Reconciliation Bill 

  • Sinema announced her decision in a statement released Thursday night, commenting she would “move forward” with the $790 billion reconciliation bill after removal of the carried interest provision—subject to the Senate Parliamentarian’s review of the revised bill.
  • Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that the chamber will begin consideration of the bill on Aug. 6, setting up a weekend process of around-the-clock votes on hundreds of amendments to the bill.
  • Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented today, “The wide-ranging climate measures in the revised bill include the most extensive clean energy investments ever considered by Congress—a positive step welcomed by the real estate industry. We are also pleased to see that carried interest provisions in the original version of the Inflation Reduction Act are out, since they would have clearly harmed the residential and commercial real estate industries, job creation and the economy.” 

Real Estate’s Carried Interest Opposition 

Construction mixed use real estate

  • The real estate coalition urged policymakers to preserve current carried interest law and detailed major concerns with the proposed changes to carried interest that were in the original IRA, brokered last week between Sens. Schumer and Joe Manchin (D-WV). (Coalition letter, Aug. 3 and Roundtable Weekly, July 29)
  • The Aug. 3 coalition letter noted, “The carried interest proposal would slow housing production, discourage the capital needed to reimagine buildings to meet post-pandemic business needs, hamper job creation and create an additional unknown in an already confusing economic environment.”
  • The real estate coalition letter concluded, “Now is not the time to impose a tax increase on the countless Americans who use partnerships to develop, own, and operate housing and other commercial real estate. We urge you to preserve current tax law as it relates to carried interest.” 

Senate Considers Changes 

Capitol 3 flags flying

  • Senate Democrats are making additional changes to the package, including adjusting the minimum tax on corporations and adding a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks. (New York Times, Aug. 4 and Punchbowl News, Aug. 5)
  • Before a final Senate vote can be held, the Senate Parliamentarian must ensure the bill complies with special budget reconciliation rules, which require provisions directly relate to spending and revenue—not policy.
  • One hurdle before the Parliamentarian is a clean energy tax credit that proposes a bonus incentive to developers who pay prevailing wages on certain projects. If it is determined to be a policy change, it will be dropped from the bill. (POLITICO Power Switch, Aug. 3)
  • A number of the IRA’s proposed revisions to the federal tax code could leverage greater private sector investments in clean energy building technologies, including:
    • A deduction to help make commercial and multifamily buildings more energy efficient (Section 179D),

    • A credit to encourage investments in renewable energy generation and other low carbon equipment such as solar panels, energy storage, and combined heat and power systems (Section 48), and

    • A credit to incentivize installations of EV charging stations (Section 30C). 

The Roundtable continues to work with its policy advisory committees and national real estate organization partners to assess how details in the bill language could impact CRE. These policies will be a focus of discussion during The Roundtable’s Sept. 20-21 Fall Meeting in Washington, DC. 

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Sens. Schumer and Manchin Agree on Reconciliation Bill With Carried Interest and Energy Efficiency Provisions

Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer

An unexpected agreement announced Wednesday night between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), above right, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), left, on a $790 billion reconciliation proposal includes $14 billion in increased taxes on carried interest and a 15% corporate minimum tax—in addition to $369 billion in climate spending that affects “clean energy” measures important to commercial real estate.

Senate Democrats are hoping to pass some version of the Schumer-Manchin language on a party-line vote before the upper chamber begins its summer recess on Aug. 8. (Senate Democrats’ joint statement and one-page bill summary, July 27 | Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, July 28)

Legislative Details

Reconciliation Bill - Roundtable Town Hall

  • Today, The Real Estate Roundtable held an all-member virtual town hall to discuss major provisions within the 725-page Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. The Roundtable is working with its policy advisory committees and national real estate organization partners to assess how details in the bill language could impact CRE.
     
  • Real Estate Roundtable President Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “The Roundtable is engaged with policymakers and Capitol Hill staff on the potential impact of the proposed bill on real estate capital formation, economic growth, clean energy investments, and affordable housing development. The industry is working together to mitigate any negative consequences for CRE before policymakers hold an eventual vote on a final bill.”

Taxes & Clean Energy

Capitol side bright

  • The IRA’s largest tax increase is a new 15% corporate minimum tax on businesses with profits over $1B whose reported book income exceeds reported taxable income. The measure is estimated to raise $313B. The package also includes protections that would preserve the value of the low-income housing tax credit for investors (typically large banks) that use the credit to reduce their effective tax rate.
  • The smallest tax increase would raise $14B in revenue by extending the capital gains holding period requirement for carried interest from 3 years to 5 years, although there is an exemption for real estate. Additionally, there are technical reforms to the holding period rules for measuring the 3- or 5-year holding period. (Deloitte Tax News & Views, July 29)
  • The carried interest holding period change includes a real estate exception for gain associated with assets used in a real property trade or business. The language in the IRA on carried interest is identical to text in the House Ways and Means Committee’s previous reconciliation bill last year—language that was dropped from the version that passed the full House. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 17, 2021)
  • The Schumer-Manchin agreement also proposes significant reforms to Section 179D—the tax code’s main provision to incentivize energy efficient commercial buildings. The 179D reforms are geared to encourage more existing building “retrofits” although maximum incentives amounts depend on compliance with heightened wage and labor standards.
  • Tax incentives are also included to encourage investments in solar panels, energy storage, and EV charging stations. (See Summary of the bill’s Energy Security and Climate Change Investments)

Timeline

DC night iconic buildings moon

  • There are several challenges to the Senate Democrats’ timeline for passage of the bill in early August. 
  • Senate Democrats need all 50 members of their caucus present for an eventual budget reconciliation vote, along with Vice President Kamala Harris to break an anticipated tie with 50 Republicans. Yet Covid-19 infections have caused recent absences. (The Hill, July 28) 
  • The bill was sent to Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to see if it conforms with reconciliation budget rules, a process that will spill over into next week. (BGov, July 29)
  • Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a key centrist vote, considering she has long opposed changes to the taxation of carried interest. Sinema’s spokesperson Hannah Hurley said yesterday that the Senator is “reviewing the text and will need to review what comes out of the parliamentarian process.” (BGov, July 29) 

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EPA Highlights Federal Resources to Help Standardize State, Local GHG Laws on Buildings

EPA's Building Performance Policy Brief - image

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a policy brief on Tuesday that provides a “formal recommendation” on metrics that states and cities should consider as they may develop GHG-related mandates on commercial and multifamily buildings. 

Trends in Building Performance Standards (“BPS”) 

  • A national BPS law does not exist (and is not on Congress’s horizon) for emissions limits or efficiency requirements on private sector buildings.
  • Nor do U.S. agencies have any current ability to create a general federal building energy code or enact rules that establish GHG mandates on real estate assets, as made evident by yesterday’s SCOTUS decision in West Virginia v. EPA. (SCOTUSblog, June 30)
  • However, a number of states and cities have developed or are considering their own climate-related building regulations according to the National BPS Coalition launched by the Biden Administration.
  • Local BPS laws can require CRE owners to pay for energy efficiency retrofits and building electrification projects—or else pay fines and penalties.
  • The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is creating a BPS for buildings owned by the federal government. Development of the “federal BPS” is reportedly delayed because of “data shortfalls.” (Bloomberg Law, June 29)

RER Seeks Voluntary Federal Guidelines   

SPAC at Roundtable Annual Meeting

  • The Real Estate Roundtable has repeatedly expressed to policymakers—including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—that workable, federal-level, voluntary guidelines are needed to help standardize the “hodge-podge” of divergent local laws that can vary in their regulations on buildings.
  • The Roundtable’s June 10 comment letter to the SEC urged the creation of a “safe harbor” for proposed emissions disclosures that are based on the best available GHG calculation tools, standards and data offered by federal agencies. (Roundtable Weekly, June 10).
  • EPA branch chiefs heard from The Roundtable about the need for federal guidance to help unify local BPS laws at the June 17 meeting of the Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee, above. (Roundtable Weekly, June 17) SPAC is chaired by Tony Malkin (Chairman, President, and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust) and vice-chaired by Ben Myers (VP, Sustainability, BXP). 

EPA’s Recommended BPS Metrics  

EPA's BPS metrics publication

  • SPAC members participated in a number of EPA-sponsored “workshops” that led to the recommended federal BPS metrics.
  • EPA’s recommended metrics are intended to “develop consistent policies that reflect the business realities faced by building owners.” (EPA’s Policy Brief and Recommended Metrics publication, above)
  • Specifically, EPA recommends that any locality considering a BPS should focus on measures within a building owner’s ability to control—such as “on-site” reduction of energy usage or “direct” GHG emissions.
  • EPA also recommends that any energy-usage intensity requirement should not be “one size fits all.” Rather, BPS rules should be “normalized” to reflect variables such as a building’s type, hours of operation, and weather conditions.
  • EPA’s recommendations are preferable to other proposals that could make CRE owners responsible for how “clean” the electric grid should become—an issue beyond owners’ control. (Roundtable Weekly, April 9, 2021). 

A number of localities are contemplating laws to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels within their borders. EPA’s encourages any such jurisdiction to consider long-term, published, and incremental “phase-out” schedules so building owners can “plan for costly and difficult equipment replacements.”  

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Roundtable Submits Comments to SEC on Climate Risk Disclosure Proposal

SEC logo and text

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments today to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on a proposed rule that would require all registered companies to disclose material financial risks related to climate change. The comments were developed with The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC), chaired by Tony Malkin (Chairman, President and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust). (GlobeSt, March 22) 

Extensive Climate Risk Disclosures

  • The SEC’s proposal, “Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors,” is a key component of the Biden Administration’s efforts to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (CBS-AP | Bloomberg Axios, March 21)

  • If the rule is finalized, compliance would phase-in over the next several years. All SEC registrants would be required to quantify their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, assess the economic impact of rising sea levels related to their assets, and report in SEC filings (for the benefit of investors) on these and other climate-related risks through annual 10-Ks and additional filings. (SEC News Release | Proposed Rule | Fact Sheet, March 22)

  • The SEC’s extensive draft rule has raised significant concerns throughout the U.S. business community. (ClimateWire, June 2). The proposal includes new disclosure requirements for “Scope 3” GHG emissions, which are generated outside a business’ direct control by partners, suppliers, and consumers that make up the “value chain” of that business. (EPA Scope 3 Inventory Guidance and Fourkites).

Roundtable Response

CRE building with tree and sunshine
  • The Roundtable’s comment letter is summarized as follows:

    • Registered Companies Should Not be Required to Report on Emissions From Sources They Do Not Own or Control.
      When applied to the CRE context, this means that a building owner should not be under a mandate to report on emissions attributable to the operations of tenants in leased spaces. For example, emissions from metered electricity in a tenant-leased space should not be the CRE owner’s responsibility to report to the SEC.  

    • Create a “Safe Harbor” for Emissions Calculated with U.S. Government Data and Tools.
      Reporting companies should be protected by a “safe harbor” that insulates emissions disclosures from liability—in both SEC enforcement as well as private litigation—when calculations are based on the best, available, and most recent data and tools released by the federal government.

    • There Should be No Scope 3 Reporting “Mandate.”
      Scope 3 disclosures typically depend on GHG data possessed by suppliers and other businesses in a reporting company’s value chain. Registrants should not be under any Scope 3 disclosure mandate because they frequently cannot get the basic data to quantify those “indirect” estimates.

    • Wait Until a Registrant has a Full Year of “Actual” Data Before Requiring Emissions Disclosures.
      The proposal as written effectively requires two separate emissions disclosures each fiscal year. The SEC should only require emissions filings once a year—after a company has all of the “actual” data it needs to support and verify its calculations.

    • Financial Risks from Severe Weather Events Should be Subject to “Principles-Based” Reporting—As Opposed to One-Size-Fits-All “Prescriptive” Rules.
      Risks from floods, droughts, and similar events should be subject to narrative, “principles-based” reporting. The SEC should drop its proposed “prescriptive” rule that registrants should precisely quantify impacts from climate-related events if they have a one-percent or greater impact on any line item in a financial statement.  

Policymaker Concerns

  • The Biden administration is expected to push forward with a final rule that could be issued later this year.

  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to the SEC on April 4 outlining his concerns with the proposal.

  • Senate Republicans also expressed their opposition to the SEC proposal in an April 5 letter.

  • House Republicans have called for a hearing on the SEC’s proposal—signaling heightened oversight should they win the majority in this November’s mid-term elections. (E&E News, May 10)

The Roundtable’s comments to the SEC will be a focus of the SPAC meeting on June 17, held in conjunction with The Roundtable’s Annual Meeting.

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Roundtable Survey Seeks Members’ Input on SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Proposal

SEC building exterior

Real Estate Roundtable members received a survey earlier today that will help formulate comments in response to a proposed rule issued on March 21 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding corporate disclosures of climate-related financial risks. (Roundtable Weekly, March 25) 

Roundtable Member Participation 

  • The Roundtable requests that members respond to the SEC climate issues survey by COB April 11.

  • Before submitting responses to the survey, members are encouraged to review The Roundtable’s fact sheet summarizing the SEC’s proposed rule.
  • The survey sent today aims to obtain a high-level understanding of the existing practices and standards used by Roundtable members in assessing and quantifying the following:
    • greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across their portfolios,
    • their buildings’ electricity use,
    • impacts to their real estate assets from floods and rising sea levels,
    • how they interact with their tenants on these matters, and
    • similar questions that will likely require registered companies to report on their climate-related financial risks.
  • If any Roundtable member has questions about the survey, please contact Roundtable Senior Vice President and Counsel, Duane Desiderio.

SEC Climate Risk Proposal

Flooding of mixed used building

  • The proposed rule has no immediate effect. If the proposal is finalized, all companies registered with the SEC would be required to report, measure, and quantify “material” risks related to climate change in their annual Form 10-Ks and certain other filings. (SEC News Release | Proposed Rule | Fact Sheet, March 22)
  • Compliance would phase-in over the next several years. For example, registrants with a global market value of $700 million or more would need to comply first for filings in FY 2024 (covering FY 2023 emissions).
  • “Limited assurance” from independent third party verifiers, regarding so-called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, would be required for the first two compliance years. Thereafter, “limited assurance” would ramp-up to “reasonable assurance” at a level provided in a financial statement audit filed with a 10-K.
  • Indirect “supply chain” emissions – known as “Scope 3” – are considered the most difficult emissions to measure and quantify. Under the SEC’s proposal, reasonable efforts to report on Scope 3 emissions would receive a “safe harbor” from certain liability under federal securities laws. Also, third-party verification of Scope 3 reporting would be optional. 

The SEC proposal, formally titled “Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors,” is considered a key component of the Biden Administration’s efforts to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52% (below 2005 levels) by 2030. (CBS-AP | Bloomberg Axios, March 21)  

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Roundtable Members Engage Policymakers on Economic, Energy, ESG and Other National Issues

Capitol from upper Pennsylvania Avenue

The Real Estate Roundtable’s Virtual 2022 State of the Industry (SOI) Meeting this week included discussions with national policymakers and industry leaders on the future of the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, the Fed and monetary policy, energy policy, regulatory oversight of ESG reporting, along with equity, diversity and inclusion issues in CRE. The Roundtable’s policy advisory committees also met, drilling down on timely issues with policy and industry experts in the areas of tax, sustainability, capital and credit, and homeland security.

Speakers & Policy Issues

Virtual SOI 2022 DeBoer and Fish

Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk), right, and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, left, launched the meeting and led discussions with three U.S. Senators and other prominent policymakers, including:

  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
    Senate Republican Whip
    Committees: Senate Commerce, Finance, Agriculture
    … joined Roundtable Board Member Ross Perot. Jr. (Chairman, Hillwood) to discuss upcoming Senate legislation and the political outlook.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Committees: Joint Economic, Senate Commerce, Judiciary, and Rules
    …  expressed her support for the recently-enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill and additional pandemic aid for the hard-hit tourism industry and hospitality sectors.
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro (D-NV)
    Committees: Senate Finance, Banking, and Energy
    … noted her support for expanding the low-income housing tax credit to build affordable homes for working families, along with business incentives to invest in energy efficiency projects.
  • John Kerry
    President Biden’s Special Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State
    … discussed the significant role of the real estate industry in efforts to combat the impact of climate change and emphasized the need for nations to adopt new green energy technologies.
  • Larry Summers
    Former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton and Former White House National Economic Council Director under President Obama

    … discussed a wide range of policy topics, including his views on the Fed’s reaction to market volatility, inflation, and the tight labor market. (Watch Summers video)

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Roundtable SOI 2022 Virtual E,D&I discussion

  • The SOI meeting also included a discussion about exploring a potential industry initiative that would aim to accelerate opportunities for minority and women business enterprises (MWBEs) in the commercial real estate industry.
  • The goals of the initiative were discussed by The Roundtable’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (E,D&I) Committee Chairman, and Roundtable Board Member, Jeff Blau (CEO, Related Companies); Ken McIntyre, CEO of The Real Estate Executive Council; and Thomas Baltimore, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of Park Hotels & Resorts.

Roundtable Policy Advisory Committees

RER's Duane Desiderio and SPAC Chair Tony Malkin

(Above: Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) Chair Tony Malkin (Chairman, President and CEO, Empire Realty Trust), right, and Roundtable SPAC Liaison, Senior Vice President and Counsel Duane Desiderio, left.)

The Roundtable’s policy advisory committee meetings on Jan. 25-26 analyzed national issues impacting CRE, including:

  • Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committees (RECPAC)

    Rep. French Hill (R-AR) provided his insights on the congressional legislative agenda from his perspective as a member of the House Financial Services Committee and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. Research Committee co-chairs Spencer Levy (CBRE’s Global Chief Client Officer) and Paula Campbell Roberts (KKR Managing Director) provided their perspectives on real estate capital markets. RECPAC co-chair Kathleen Farrell, Head of Commercial Real Estate for Truist, moderated a joint committee meeting capital market discussion, along with co-chairs Gregg Gerken, Head of Commercial Real Estate with TD Bank, and Mike Lowe, Co-CEO with Lowe.

  • Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC)

    Potential tax revenue policies that may be considered by Congress were a focus of a discussion moderated by Russ Sullivan (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck) with Bethany Bell, staff director for the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Additionally, Derek Theurer, chief tax counsel for Ways and Means’ Republicans, discussed tax legislative priorities prior to the upcoming mid-term elections.

  • Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF)

    HSTF members were briefed on the escalation of organized “smash and grab” looting incidents affecting the retail sector by Dan Kennedy, Senior Vice President of US Security Operations for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Chris Woiwode, Vice President and Chief Security Officer for Macerich and Terry Monahan, former New York City Senior Advisor for Recovery Safety Planning and NYPD Department Chief. Additionally, HSTF co-chairs Amanda Mason (Executive Director of Global Intelligence for the Related Companies) and Keith Wallace (Vice President for Global Safety & Security with Marriott International) led HSTF in a discussion on current threats to CRE and mitigation strategies. (HSTF on Jan. 20 held a virtual exercise simulating hostile events and adverse weather impacting CRE).

  • Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC)

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff demonstrated a new, powerful Building Emissions Calculator to estimate historical, current and future annual greenhouse gas emissions resulting from a building’s energy use. SPAC also discussed the SEC’s expected rule on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) reporting requirements. (Reuters, Jan. 19).  Additional speakers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration provided an update on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which tracks federal data on U.S. CRE energy use.

Next on The Roundtable’s FY2022 meeting calendar is the Spring Meeting on April 26. This meeting is restricted to Roundtable-level members only.

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