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Greenwash at your peril

In brief

We know that the construction and operation of buildings has an enormous impact on energy-related carbon emissions, contributing around 40% globally. To deal with this, many real estate investors are committing to transition their real estate portfolios to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or earlier.

Owners, occupiers, investors and funders of the built environment will come under increased pressure to reduce emissions and substantiate their sustainability credentials. Investor groups and other stakeholders now expect greater disclosure and action on addressing climate risks. It is becoming increasingly clear that greenwashing will no longer be tolerated.

To support and underline this need for evolving business models to commit to achieving the agreed climate goals, political and regulatory policies are now fast evolving. For an international investor with properties in the UK, EU (and potentially Switzerland), it can be difficult to keep track of the changing EU regulatory landscape,especially now as outsiders looking in.

Those who develop, invest in, or occupy, real estate in the EU should be aware of the current topics on the legislative agenda and, just as importantly, be aware that some EU sustainability regulation will apply even to real estate activities undertaken outside of the EU.

A previous version of this article was published in Estates Gazette on 2 November 2021.

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Ben Farnell is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Real Estate Practice Group in London. He focuses his practice on commercial property law, planning and development, and real estate sustainability.
Ben is listed as a "Next Generation Partner" in the Legal 500 UK 2021 directory.


William-James Kettlewell is a senior associate in the EU Competition and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group of the Brussels’s office.


Katherine Lang is a Senior Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie, London office.

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