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When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, the real estate industry is running out of time – CNN

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Diane Hoskins is co-CEO of Gensler. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.

Extreme weather events — including heat waves, droughts and floods — have unfolded all over the world this summer. The grave impact of climate change is upon us and will continue to have a profound impact on human life. But there are still largely untapped actions we can take to reduce the damage.

Achieving global policy ambitions like the ones set in the 2015 Paris Agreement will require leadership from the private sector, but individual companies with strong internal climate commitments can’t go at it alone. They are hamstrung unless other businesses in their ecosystem follow through with similar pledges. To accomplish this, companies need policies that require the cooperation of external stakeholders at every step of the value chain.
For those of us in the real estate sector, the concern always seemed to be less about the cause of our manmade carbon footprint and more about cost. For years, we have seen rising sea levels and extreme weather events happening around us, putting property portfolios at risk. The economic and physical changes have affected insurance industry volatility, impacting construction and long-term investment prospects.
However, many in the industry have yet to admit that buildings are as responsible for carbon as cars. The real estate industry makes up 49% of global carbon emissions when accounting for construction and building performance. Most carbon reduction efforts in the building sector have focused on operational efficiency — energy sources for keeping buildings at an ideal temperature, lighted, ventilated and powered — so that properties consume as little energy as possible. And while these efforts have furthered the industry’s goal of getting buildings closer to net zero operationally, we can no longer ignore that building materials account for half of a building’s total lifetime carbon footprint.
We are out of time. And the real estate industry’s wait-and-see approach is no longer acceptable. Embodied carbon — emissions associated with the manufacturing, transport, construction and disposal of building materials — must become a priority for the entire industry value chain.
With commercial buildings, concrete and steel have traditionally been used for construction, along with other frequently used carbon-intensive materials like foam insulation, plastics and aluminum. However, building with structural wood has increasingly gained traction as an alternative, given that it sequesters more carbon than it emits. Developers are becoming aware of its versatility and sustainability, and if adopted on a global scale, mass timber could challenge steel and cement as the preferred materials for construction. Additionally, structural engineers have already successfully used recycled steel and low-carbon cement consisting of alternative mixtures. This, combined with using more unpolished and salvaged materials, has already proven to lower buildings’ carbon footprints.
And since nearly 75% of all raw materials in the US are used for the construction of buildings, the conscious decisions about the sourcing, construction and finishing of our development projects will have a lasting environmental impact.
At Gensler, a global architecture and design firm, we recently issued letters to our structural engineers, vendors, suppliers, construction and general contracting leaders asking for their partnership in shaping their policy to change the value chain. Together, we are developing an agreed-upon approach for specifying quality products that align with our company’s carbon neutrality promise. In early 2022, Gensler is launching new green specifications that focus on reducing high-carbon materials, using the most efficient structural solutions to reduce material quantities, sourcing materials that are extracted and manufactured locally, and minimizing waste. These specifications will be used on all of our projects. From then on, we will prioritize working with partners who meet those specifications and use materials that significantly reduce construction-related emissions, such as low-carbon concrete, steel, cross-laminated timber and alternative materials that absorb rather than emit carbon. With Gensler’s design impact and its global scale, this change in demand for sustainable materials will have an immediate ripple effect across the building sector.
If all parts of the real estate ecosystem — including architects, owners, developers, investors, constructors and material suppliers — move toward a net zero ambition, together, they could save 10 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of removing nearly 2.2 billion gas-powered cars from the road for an entire year. There must be global net zero building standards across major market participants, investors, developers, designers and occupiers to drive demand. We must also create policies that demand energy suppliers provide access to low-carbon alternatives.
This era of reducing the embodied carbon in building materials will change construction and real estate development. We have entered a critical period for humanity. Carbon-neutral statements, science-based targets, and promises at international forums like the UN Climate Change conference will not suffice. Tangible and immediate action is the only solution.

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These Popular Fall Renovations Are Getting Done In Canada This Year

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The weather in Canada can be unpredictable, so homeowners often wait for late spring or summer to do their home renovations. They want to take advantage of the warmer weather, especially on outdoor projects.

But contractors continue to work long after the summer ends. Demand for renos can surge in the fall as homeowners try to get things done before the harsh winter weather sets in.

Even moderate renovations to your home can help increase the value when selling. Having a newly renovated house and working with a great real estate agent in Toronto can help get you the best return on your property.

But what renovations are Canadians getting done in the fall?

 

Heated Flooring

The popularity of carpet has dwindled in the last twenty years, as people often favour the sleek style of hardwood and tile flooring. While these floors look beautiful, they can have an unexpected drawback; They’re cold. This is why heated flooring has become one of the most popular “invisible” renovations in modern Canadian homes. Installing underfloor heating helps provide even heat through your floors, so stepping out of bed on a cold morning won’t be so unpleasant. These floors can be installed anywhere in the house, from bathrooms to bedrooms.

Keeping the Heat in

Insulation is another popular renovation in the fall. Upgrading old insulation is not only food for keeping your house toasty on the cooler nights, but it also helps reduce mould, rot, and other unpleasantries that lurk behind the walls. Fall is a popular time to get these renovations done because the temperatures have not yet dropped below freezing, meaning you won’t have to worry about your house letting in too much cold during its renovation period.

For the same reasons, this is also an excellent time to get your doors and windows professionally replaced for more energy-efficient models, as nobody wants a gaping hole in their wall in the middle of winter– or the heat of summer.

Company is Coming

The winter months are full of social occasions, from Thanksgiving to holiday parties. These social occasions mean entertaining guests that are coming over to your home. Fall is an ideal time to get your home renovations well underway before they arrive. These guest-centred renovations usually include bathrooms, which can be particularly good to get finished before the ground starts to freeze and plumbing is harder to access.

Kitchen upgrades are another popular choice to get done, as entertaining guests means having a space to do so and cooking for them. Renovations to make a more ideal and open concept kitchen, as well as the addition of islands peak during this time.

Roof Repair

Have you ever passed people working on a roof in the middle of the summer and wondered how they’re surviving the heat? The striking heat of the summer can make roof work unpleasant, but waiting until winter is dangerous, especially in icy conditions. Fall is the perfect time to get any roof maintenance done before the snow falls and damages your home.

Credit: HeungSoon via Pixabay

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FORT MAC LRA Approves Interim Plan for TD JAKES Real Estate Ventures Group – KPVI News 6

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FORT MAC LRA Approves Interim Plan for TD JAKES Real Estate Ventures Group  KPVI News 6



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Could New Zealand's radical new housing law help Canada curb its skyrocketing real estate prices? – National Post

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New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s

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A radical new law intended to reduce New Zealand’s infamous housing crunch could well be a model for how Canada could curb its ever-skyrocketing real estate prices, according to experts contacted by the National Post.

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This week, in a rare bipartisan action, the New Zealand government introduced measures to quash “overly restrictive planning rules” that hinder development in urban cores.

New Zealanders may now develop up to 50 per cent of their land — and build up to three storeys — without requiring consent from municipal authorities. The reforms also unleash landowners to build up to three homes per lot in areas that previously restricted those lots to one or two homes.

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While the measures do not mandate development of existing homes, they mean that New Zealanders now have much more freedom to build on their land without butting up against municipal planning laws. A similar law applied to Vancouver and Toronto, for instance, would automatically free builders from the need to seek local approval for a laneway house.

A government-commissioned analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has estimated that the new measures will spur a building boom expected to add between 48,200 and 105,500 new units of housing in New Zealand by the end of the decade.

“I think reforms like this would likely help increase Canadian housing stock quite a bit,” Nathanael Lauster, a housing density researcher at the University of British Columbia, told the Post.

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Lauster helped created the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project , an effort to meticulously document zoning laws in Canada’s third largest city. What the project has revealed is that the vast majority of land in Vancouver is zoned for single family homes, effectively making densification illegal in much of Canada’s most unaffordable real estate market.

A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex.
A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex. Photo by Metro Vancouver Housing Project

In an extensive analysis of New Zealand’s new housing reforms, Lauster called them a “welcome new model” for stripping “exclusionary” powers from the hands of local governments, which disproportionately favour the interests of existing homeowners. “It’s relatively easy for municipal politics to become captured by those most resistant to change and greater inclusion,” he wrote.

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New Zealand’s new measures were supported both by its Labour Party government and its conservative National Party opposition. Tellingly, the policy’s official launch was attended by National Party Leader Judith Collins.

“National supports this policy because it focuses on supply. Rather than making life harder for property owners, this policy tells them that you have the right to build,” Collins told a Tuesday press conference .

The National Party leader also struck out at Kiwis who opposed the law on the grounds that it would strip communities of their “character.” “Our communities lose their character when people can’t afford to own their own home,” she said.

New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s. The gap between New Zealand’s average incomes and its average real estate cost is currently among the highest in the OECD .

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Notably, the problem continues to grow despite the fact that New Zealand maintains strict controls on foreign ownership. In 2018, the country banned non-residents from purchasing pre-existing New Zealand real estate, although foreigners are given limited reign to purchase new builds.

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Canada’s already overheated real estate market is on a fast track to match New Zealand for unaffordability. In just the last year, average Canadian home prices soared by an incredible 21.4 per cent .

The singular reason for this is lack of supply. Canada has the lowest number of housing units per capita than any other country in the G7, a ratio that is only getting worse as lacklustre housing development is met with massive population growth.

In Canada, any law to defang municipal zoning laws would need to come from the provinces. With New Zealand having a population of only five million, its national government often makes decisions that would be considered regional issues in Canada.

However, there is strong precedent to show that Canadian provinces have relatively free reign to steamroll municipal laws whenever they want to.

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One of the starkest recent examples was when the province of Ontario abruptly cut the size of Toronto City Council in half.

While the City of Toronto took the issue to court framing it as an undemocratic coup, just this month the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Ontario acted constitutionally.

In the recent Canadian federal election, all three major parties debuted housing plans that mostly skirted around the issue of municipal barriers to development. The Conservatives proposed tying federal transit funding to a city’s willingness to densify, but there were no blunt New Zealand-style promises to override onerous local zoning laws

“If there was a blanket up-zoning of land in Canadian metropolitan areas, it would lead to an increase in the housing stock,” said Steve Lafleur, an analyst specializing in housing affordability at the Fraser Institute.

The libertarian-minded Fraser Institute isn’t one to advocate stricter government control of an economic sector, and Lafleur said that provincial “micromanaging” of local zoning would not be ideal. Nevertheless, he said, “given immense demand for housing, it is impossible to believe that there would not be a boom … if denser housing were allowed.”

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