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Guidance Report

Existing Building Retrofits

May 27, 2023


This guidance report examines the causal connection between buildings and climate change and explores how an industry shift towards sustainability can pave the way for a more financially, environmentally, and socially resilient built environment.  It also touches on industry trends, shifting regulatory landscapes, and potential solutions specific to real estate.

Executive Summary

In recent years, the existential crises of climate change and biodiversity loss have pushed sustainability to the forefront of science, business, and policymaking. As the urgency grows to address these challenges, a shift in the real estate industry is simultaneously underway. Recognizing the role of buildings in driving GHG emissions and the growing risks from climate impacts, industry leaders are pushing the sector to decarbonize. The momentum to mitigate climate change, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, has also facilitated a more recent focus on biodiversity protection and social equity in the real estate sector — a trend reflected in the wider realm of corporate sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Looking across the dimensions of climate change, biodiversity loss, and social injustice, this guidance report explores the connection between the built environment and the greatest environmental and social challenges of our time. After discussing negative impacts, we pivot to what a sustainable built environment might look like and pathways to achieve it. The business case for sustainability and trends and challenges within corporate sustainability and ESG are also discussed.

Exploring sustainable retrofits for existing buildings

Author: Carli Schoenleber, Content and Engagement Specialist, VIBE and Verdani Partners

Research and Editing: Darian Gore, Research Assistant, VIBE

Editor: Bennett Rea, Editor, VIBE

Content Advisors: Daniele Horton, Founder and

CEO of Verdani Partners, Founder of VIBE

Jerry Yudelson, LEED Fellow Emeritus


Janice Lao, Senior Associate, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership


Mary Reames, Associate Director of Communications, Verdani Partners

Project Management: Julie Jacobson, Executive Director; VIBE and Senior ESG Manager, Verdani Partners

Graphic Designers: Cassandra Taylor, Lead Designer, Template Creator, Verdani Partners

Sponsors: Verdani Partners and RE Tech Advisors 

Volunteer Researchers:

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