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World Economic Forum: Catalyzing Retrofit Finance and Investing in Commercial Real Estate


 This report  is the product of the Retrofit Finance & Investing Project, a cross-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative of the World Economic Forum launched in 2010.

The report equips policy-makers and industry leaders with the information and tools needed to build and scale retrofit markets around the world. It highlights the business potential waiting to be tapped by multiple industries and underscores the acute importance for government leaders to take action now: to ensure a resource-secure, low-carbon future and to benefit from the economic and job creation potential that retrofitting promises. It calls to action the range of existing and potential stakeholders to fully and jointly participate in growing a healthy retrofit market, including government, financial service institutions, investors, property owners, utilities, equipment manufacturers, energy service companies and other related industries. Finally, it provides industry-specific recommendations to enable their participation.

The U.S. potential is reported by C40 Cities…

$400 billion market potential in building retrofit market

A new study from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found that retrofitting commercial buildings could represent a $400 billion market in the U.S. alone. Citing C40’s own study with the Carbon Disclosure Project, WEF says:

“Any successful approach to combating climate change must include commercial buildings, which are responsible for approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and, in some countries, 70% of electrical consumption. Nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment, and the energy savings would exceed the cost of upgrades, generally within five years or less.”

The report also found that governments are “the single greatest catalyst” for a thriving retrofit market, a conclusion supported both by C40’s research with Arup showing that mayors from C40 Cities have strong powers in this sector – and by action on the ground across the C40 network.

Earlier this month, C40, CCI and Los Angeles announced the city’s launch of a major effort to spur commercial retrofits through a new program offering both technical and financing support; the program is a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. A similarprogram has also been created by Melbourne. Chicago is serving to catalyze the city’s retrofit market by targeting an iconic government building; while in Mumbai, it is a commercial real estate giant who is a first mover. In June, Houston Mayor Annise Parker made C40 proud by winning  the 2011 Mayors’ Climate Protection Award for the city’s green building leadership in the public and private sectors.


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