Sustainable Real Estate in Mexico: 

Navigating the Path to a Greener Future


March 4th is designated as World Engineering for Sustainable Development Day, emphasizing the crucial role of various industries, including real estate, in the pursuit of decarbonizing modern life. This global observance serves as an occasion to reflect on the challenges and opportunities faced by the real estate sector in aligning with sustainability goals. The Paris Agreement, with its ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 2050, sets the stage for concerted efforts worldwide.

In the context of this global initiative, it’s essential to explore how Mexico, as a participant in the collective drive towards sustainability, addresses the challenges within its real estate sector. Despite the international commitment to carbon reduction, the United Nations (UN) reports indicate that the real estate industry, both globally and within Mexico, confronts hurdles in meeting the outlined objectives. The demand for energy in buildings is on the rise, and carbon emissions from property operations have surged, necessitating a closer look at Mexico’s efforts and initiatives.

This overview delves into the broader landscape of sustainable real estate practices, emphasizing both global and Mexican perspectives. By examining key trends, initiatives, and collaborations, we aim to gain insights into the current state of sustainable development within the Mexican real estate sector and its alignment with global sustainability objectives.

Growing Demand for Sustainable Spaces

Amidst these challenges, a silver lining emerges in the form of a rising demand for environmentally friendly, sustainable, and energy-efficient spaces. Platforms in Mexico like DD360, specializing in financing and managing residential projects, report a significant uptick in this demand. Notably, Accenture data reveals that 61% of global consumers prioritize products with a positive ecological footprint, signaling a shift towards sustainable living.

Defining Sustainable Real Estate Development

DD360 defines sustainable real estate development as properties that, during construction, minimize their negative impact on the environment. Achieving sustainability involves both passive and active measures, such as utilizing trees, natural light, and air currents passively, and employing architectural elements and technology actively. Sustainability extends to intelligent space use, conscious construction planning, and resource preservation.

Benefits of Sustainable Developments

Sustainable real estate developments bring forth numerous benefits include:

  • Reduction of CO2 generation
  • Decrease in greenhouse gas production
  • Up to a 30% reduction in energy consumption

Moreover, these developments yield social benefits, resulting in a lower demand for infrastructure and municipal services due to reduced water consumption and wastewater production.

Technology as a Key Facilitator

DD360 emphasizes the pivotal role of technology in supporting the real estate sector’s sustainability goals. Verified information systems provide valuable data on outdoor spaces, helping developers make informed decisions based on factors like greenery percentage. This technological approach enables a comprehensive understanding of the construction area, allowing for strategies focused on preserving natural resources.

The Financial Case for Sustainable Real Estate

Recent years have witnessed a paradigm shift in the real estate industry’s approach to sustainability, moving beyond the “green premium” debate. Studies, such as those conducted by Dalton and Fuerst in 2018, indicate that green certifications yield a rent premium of 6.0% and a sales premium of 7.6%. JLL’s “Decarbonizing the Built Environment” report further reinforces the financial benefits, with 63% of leading investors agreeing that green strategies lead to higher occupancy, rents, and overall value.

The Rise of the “Brown Discount” and Changing Priorities

As sustainability climbs the corporate priority list, real estate discussions increasingly incorporate the concept of a “brown discount.” Buildings failing to meet higher environmental standards may be perceived as less valuable. The focus is shifting towards “best-in-class” buildings championing net-zero carbon, health, and climate resilience, with attention turning away from prime locations to these critical sustainability attributes.

The Urgency for Action

With around 70% of existing building stock expected to persist until 2050, the urgency for sustainable real estate solutions is evident. Vivid Economics estimates a staggering $5.2 trillion investment over the next decade to decarbonize the built environment. Aligning with the Paris Agreement and limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius necessitates a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net-zero carbon buildings by 2050.

Financing Sustainable Development

While retrofitting existing real estate is crucial for achieving net-zero carbon space, the current pace, averaging 1-2% in mature cities, falls short. JLL’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum has resulted in the creation of Green Building Principles, serving as a roadmap to guide occupiers and investors toward achieving net-zero carbon real estate portfolios.

Beyond Financial Gains: The Broader Impact

Transitioning buildings to low- and no-carbon versions brings significant benefits beyond financial gains. Sustainable real estate positively impacts up to 70% of total carbon emissions in cities, enhancing air quality, reducing chronic diseases, and fostering community trust. Businesses adopting sustainable practices demonstrate a commitment to societal well-being, rebuilding trust with communities and society at large.

The Path Forward: A Net-Zero Future

The imperative to cut carbon emissions from real estate has never been clearer. The next decade is critical for real estate to play its part in building a more sustainable, just, and equitable future—a net-zero future. The focus is shifting from a temporary green premium to the potential of a more substantial and lasting brown discount, emphasizing the material impact of sustainable practices on a building’s financial performance.

Mexico’s Journey Toward Sustainable Real Estate

As the global conversation around sustainable real estate gains momentum, Mexico is poised to be a crucial player in this transformative journey. The country’s real estate sector faces unique challenges and opportunities in aligning with global sustainability goals. Understanding the local context, embracing technological solutions, and adopting green building principles will be instrumental in shaping Mexico’s sustainable real estate landscape.

Green Building Certifications: Mexico has seen an increase in the adoption of green building certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Mexican Green Building Council’s (CAMe) certifications. These certifications signify a commitment to sustainable construction practices and environmentally friendly building designs.

Government Initiatives: The Mexican government has shown interest in promoting sustainable practices in the construction and real estate sectors. Initiatives may include the establishment of building codes and regulations aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

Renewable Energy Integration: Sustainable real estate practices often involve the integration of renewable energy sources. Mexico has been making strides in expanding its renewable energy capacity, which can positively impact sustainable real estate projects by providing cleaner energy options.

Public Awareness and Demand: Increasing public awareness of environmental issues has led to a growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly real estate options. Developers and builders are recognizing this trend and responding by incorporating green building practices and technologies.

Collaboration with International Organizations: Mexico often collaborates with international organizations and participates in global initiatives related to sustainable development. Such collaborations can bring knowledge exchange, funding, and best practices to the country.

Technological Solutions: The adoption of technology, including data analytics and smart building technologies, can play a role in making real estate more sustainable. Technology can contribute to better resource management, energy efficiency, and overall environmental performance.

Environmental Impact Assessments: The regulatory framework in Mexico includes environmental impact assessments for certain projects. This process ensures that the potential environmental effects of a project are considered and mitigated.

It’s essential to consult local news sources, government announcements, and industry reports for the most recent and specific initiatives in sustainable real estate in Mexico. Additionally, checking with Mexican environmental agencies, real estate associations, and green building councils can provide detailed insights into the current state of sustainable practices in the country.

Conclusion: Embracing Sustainability for a Greener Tomorrow

In conclusion, the trajectory of sustainable real estate in Mexico is a crucial aspect of the broader global movement towards a greener future. From addressing the challenges outlined in the UN report to redefining the financial landscape with green premiums and brown discounts, sustainable real estate is more than a trend—it’s an imperative. The future holds promise, with technology, financial incentives, and societal expectations converging to drive meaningful change. Mexico’s real estate stakeholders have a unique opportunity to lead this transformation, contributing to a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable built environment.

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