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ICF & CBEY Co-Host Real Estate Colloquium: Locked-In to the Built Environment? Opportunities for Green Property Retrofitting in a Post-COVID World

real estate colloq
real estate colloquium

On February 21, 2024 the Yale International Center for Finance (ICF) and Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) co-hosted a panel discussion with Bruce Redman Becker ’85 MBA/M.Arch (President, Becker + Becker Architects), Jessica Bailey '04 GSAS (President & CEO, Nuveen Green Capital), and Brian Murray ‘09 MBA (Partner & CEO, Shift Capital). Cameron LaPoint, Assistant Professor of Finance, Yale School of Management offered introductory remarks and data and the conversation was moderated by Stuart DeCew, Executive Director, Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY).

Event Description

Real estate generates 40% of global carbon emissions, with 29% arising from the energy usage of existing buildings. The pandemic resulted in a surge in investments in home improvements, including solar panels, energy-efficient technologies, and disaster-proofing measures such as wildfire and seismic strengthening. This trend is likely to continue, as more homeowners are staying in their homes for longer to avoid taking out mortgages at higher rates -- a phenomenon known as the “lock-in” effect. To help ease credit access for retrofitting, new state-level programs such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) offer loans for environmentally conscious property improvements with fewer restrictions than traditional credit lines.

At the same time, the work-from-home revolution has lowered commercial office and retail property values by over 40% in some major metro areas, creating a strong set of financial incentives for owners and local governments to redevelop space and reduce building vacancies. In October 2023, the White House unlocked new resources towards a mission to encourage zero emissions conversions and increase the housing supply, hoping to render housing more affordable while tackling the climate crisis.

Can we escape the real estate lock-in effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by improving the energy efficiency of the building stock?

Check out the video of this panel conversation, where, to answer this question, our panelists explored the latest financial innovations, sustainable technologies, and policy initiatives shaping the future of eco-conscious property redevelopment. 

Preview image for the video "Real Estate Colloquium: Opportunities for Green Property Retrofitting in a Post-COVID World".


Bruce Redman Becker

Bruce Redman Becker is president of Becker + Becker, an integrated sustainable architecture and development firm. The firm is based in Westport, Connecticut.

Bruce’s firm plans, designs, and implements development projects that have a social and environmental value, rebuilding and strengthening communities to help revitalize cities. The firm completed the adaptive re-use of the former Bank of America building in Hartford to create the LEED Platinum, 285-unit, at 777 Main, as well as the LEED Platinum 500-unit, 32-story, 360 State Street project in New Haven, which incorporates the 1st fuel cell in the world to power an apartment building. Becker + Becker was also responsible for the adaptive re-use of the Wauregan Hotel in Norwich, CT, as well as the Octagon on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. The firm recently completed the adaptive re-use and preservation of the iconic Pirelli building in New Haven. Originally designed by Marcel Breuer, the former office building has been transformed into Hotel Marcel - a 165-room boutique hotel and conference center that uses no fossil fuels. The hotel is LEED Platinum certified and the first Passive House certified hotel in the United States.

Bruce was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2019, is a LEED Accredited Professional, and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Bruce wrote the chapter in the AIA Handbook of Professional Practice on practicing in a dual role of Architect and Developer.

Bruce was a founding director of the CT Renewable Energy and Efficiency Business Association and is currently chairman of the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut and is a founding board member of Land Use Atlas, Inc. Bruce graduated from Amherst College, attended the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, and received MBA and Master of Architecture degrees from Yale. Bruce lives in Westport in a net-zero energy historic home with his wife and partner Kraemer Sims Becker.

Jessica Bailey

Jessica Bailey is President & CEO of Nuveen Green Capital, a leading provider of sustainable commercial real estate finance. Prior to her role at Nuveen, she co-founded Greenworks Lending, the largest provider of commercial PACE (C-PACE) financing in the country. Greenworks Lending was acquired by Nuveen, a TIAA company, in April 2021. The mission of Nuveen Green Capital is to make clean energy a smart business decision for commercial building owners. Utilizing a public-private partnership and state-enabled policy that Ms. Bailey helped to develop in 2010, C-PACE financing has become a mainstream financing tool for clean energy upgrades in commercial real estate and sustainable new construction.

Greenworks (now rebranded to Nuveen Green Capital) was founded in 2015 and has brought C-PACE financing to nearly 30 states across the country. As co-founder and CEO of Greenworks Lending, Ms. Bailey grew the company into a national lending platform operating in over 30 states, has raised and deployed over a billion dollars in debt and equity, and has built a team of over 100 professionals. Greenworks was the first company to securitize the cash flows associated with their clean energy loans in 2017 and completed the industry’s largest public securitization in 2021. Through its nationwide distribution and originations platform, it has experienced double-digit annual originations growth since founding. In 2021, she led Greenworks to a successful acquisition by Nuveen, where she has maintained her role as CEO & President of Nuveen Green Capital.

Ms. Bailey has 20 years of experience in leadership roles within non-profit, public, and private high-growth companies. She is skilled at combining vision and pragmatism to transform concepts into thriving businesses, and highly regarded for her work on translating policy into practice as it relates to reversing climate change. Her career has spanned creating policy within the philanthropic and think tank sector, to implementing policy as a government agent, to scaling solutions to societal problems in the private sector using policy frameworks as market signals.

Prior to co-founding Greenworks Lending, Ms. Bailey was with the Connecticut Green Bank as the Director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), where she joined in 2012. There she designed an award-winning, state-wide PACE program, allowing building owners to access financing to perform clean energy improvements on their properties, which became the model for numerous other states’ C-PACE programs.

From 2004-2012, Ms. Bailey worked at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), an $800 million foundation based in New York. As the Fund’s program officer for sustainable development, she co-managed a portfolio of grants focused on combating climate change and promoting clean energy. Prior to joining the RBF, she spent time working at the United Nations, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and on a research project in Ecuador.

Ms. Bailey is a recognized thought leader in the field of sustainability and lauded as a mission-driven leader of a high-growth start-up company with a successful exit. In 2022, she was ranked #30 in Commercial Observer’s 2022 Power Finance List and was also recognized in Crain’s Chicago Business 2022 Notable Leaders in Sustainability list. She was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Woman in 2019, a prestigious award affiliated with EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Connecticut Magazine named her “40 Under 40” in 2019. She was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House for solar deployment in 2014. The Hartford Business Journal dubbed her a “Green Warrior” for her work to design the successful Connecticut C-PACE program. She sits on the boards of PACENow, the leading industry association and advocacy organization for PACE, the CT League of Conservation Voters, and Connecticut Innovations. She is also a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO).

Brian Murray

Brian Murray is CEO of SHIFT Capital, a certified B Corporation impact real estate group headquartered in Philadelphia. Brian formed SHIFT to align capital and philanthropy to drive more equitable development for underserved neighborhoods and cities. To date, he has led SHIFT’s deployment of over $330 million in neighborhood investments in urban communities throughout Philadelphia PA, Washington DC, and Newark NJ.

Brian is a seasoned entrepreneur who strives to be a catalyst for positive change. Through his work at SHIFT, Brian is focused on finding better solutions at the intersection of society’s most difficult urban challenges – intergenerational poverty, urban revitalization, access to opportunity, and community displacement.

SHIFT is a national leader in creating more inclusive neighborhoods and building a stronger, more equitable real estate ecosystem. SHIFT’s first fund, the SHIFT Neighborhood Fund, employs a place-based approach to neighborhoods in North Philadelphia that have suffered decades of neglect and disinvestment. SHIFT’s second fund, the NextGen Impact Platform, is focused on investing in and with the next generation of impact developers across the country.

Through inclusive economic strategies, mission-aligned capital, and a community focus, SHIFT has sought to change the narrative around how communities can benefit from positive change. SHIFT has launched additional equitable initiatives, including: the Kensington Corridor Trust, the nation’s first Neighborhood Trust; a Developer-in-Residence Program for Voyage Investments, a Latinx-owned affordable housing group; and the Good Neighbor Program, focused on bridging communities through citizen engagement.

Brian is a Peace Corps alumnus and an MBA graduate of Yale School of Management. Outside of SHIFT, Brian has co-founded and is currently the Chairman of Areté Youth Foundation, is a board member of North Broad Renaissance, and sits on the Philadelphia Board of Street Soccer USA.