The Community Preservation Corp. (CPC) is stepping up its sustainability commitment, announcing a plan to reach carbon neutral operations during the 2020 calendar year. The leading nonprofit affordable housing and community revitalization finance company, based in New York, is one of the first in the real estate industry to set such an ambitious target.

Rafael E. Cestero
Rafael E. Cestero

CPC’s work to attain carbon neutral operations is a continuation of its nonprofit mission and its commitment to align with New York City and state goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. According to the nonprofit, the real estate industry must take the lead in advancing measures to improve the quality and sustainability of the nation’s communities.

“The impacts of climate change on the health and stability of our cities are well documented. From global warming to air pollution, drought, and flooding, our communities—especially those that are home to underserved and vulnerable populations—are struggling to adjust and cope with this new reality,” said CPC president and CEO Rafael E. Cestero in a statement. “We felt strongly that being good stewards of our neighborhoods meant that we needed to take a critical approach to changing our behavior and tracking our progress to further lessen our environmental impact. Achieving carbon neutral operations is a natural step for CPC that complements our ongoing sustainability initiatives and will help us create greener, healthier, and more sustainable cities.”

The nonprofit has retained EcoAct, an international sustainability consultancy, to help develop and implement its strategy. It plans to achieve carbon neutral operations through a three-pronged approach.

First, it will complete an annual Greenhouse Gas Assessment, also known as a carbon footprint, to measure and track total emissions for three scopes under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Based on the results of the first carbon footprint in 2018, CPC has developed a plan to eliminate 100% of emissions associated with the nonprofit’s electricity consumption by purchasing electricity exclusively sourced from renewable sources and eliminating waste produced in day-to-day operations.

CPC also has created an employee engagement strategy to educate about energy conservation, composting, recycling, low-carbon commuting and business travel, and waste reduction. It also is evaluating strategies to reduce emissions at its investment properties.

Last, it will achieve carbon neutrality through the funding of emission mitigation efforts. These carbon offsets are independently verified according to third-party standards, and CPC will be targeting projects in close proximity to communities it supports as well as international projects aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition to its carbon neutral commitment, the company will continue its sustainability platform that promotes energy and water conservation measures as a way to improve the financial and physical quality of buildings and communities. Since 2013, CPC has financed approximately 7,000 units of energy-efficient, affordable housing. It also launched an Underwriting Efficiency handbook in 2017 as a free resource for lenders and in 2018 the CPC VeriFi app, an interactive tool that calculates the potential cost savings of energy-efficient upgrades in multifamily buildings. The organization will host a Carbon Neutral Summit in New York City in May.

“Reducing our climate footprint is crucial in the fight against climate change, and carbon neutrality is a tool that can help achieve a healthier and more sustainable environment for all,” said Lindsay Robbins, director of strategic alignment and implementation at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “CPC’s commitment to carbon neutral operations is a great example of their leadership in sustainability efforts in the field of affordable housing.”