ULI Foundation announces $1 million gift to launch effort to decarbonize cities


The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global research and education organization focused on shaping the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide, has received a major gift that will support the organization’s efforts to combat climate change by pushing cities and building owners to reduce their carbon emissions to zero.

Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties Inc. and former Global Chair of ULI, is donating $1 million to launch the Net Zero Imperative, which will convene ULI members to develop ideas and strategies for decarbonizing the built environment.

The Net Zero Imperative will sponsor Technical Assistance Panels in multiple locations worldwide each year, bringing together public and private sector leaders to develop a roadmap to accelerate decarbonization efforts for the panel sponsors and the greater community. Local governments, universities, business districts, and other institutions that serve as stewards for large portfolios of buildings will be eligible to apply to host and benefit from the panels.

The reports developed by the panels will also be curated and compiled into how-to guides that other building owners can consult in order to develop their own decarbonization strategies.

“We are profoundly grateful for this gift from Owen,” said W. Edward (Ed) Walter, Global CEO of ULI. “Owen made tackling climate change a focus of his tenure as our Global Chair, and we look forward to continuing that work in the years to come, thanks to his generosity.”

“Real estate is responsible for 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. We must take immediate action to mitigate emissions and stem the devastating impacts of climate change,” Thomas said. “I have every confidence that ULI will effectively execute on the goals of the gift—and help lead the global conversation about how we can decarbonize the built environment.”

“This gift from Owen will allow ULI to make a tangible impact in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions,” said Faron Hill, Chair of the ULI Foundation. “We appreciate his record of service to ULI and look forward to bringing his vision for the Net Zero Imperative to life.”