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Former presidential candidate is buying up apartments for a surprising reason: 'The impact and the returns are linked'

"Capitalism will look at this successful strategy, and replicate it, creating ripples through the built environment."

Galvanize Climate Solutions

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer is planning to make buildings across the country more energy efficient through his investment company Galvanize Climate Solutions.

In April, Bloomberg reported that Galvanize Climate Solutions has a new real estate investment strategy. The plan is to buy real estate, primarily low-density multifamily homes between one and three stories tall with parking, and upgrade them to be more energy efficient.

Galvanize Climate Solutions will add solar panels to the parking areas of these buildings as well as make further eco-friendly renovations using its proprietary methods, The Hill reported

The result will be a major investment in apartment buildings, student housing, self-storage, and industrial properties all across America. The goal is to make them cost less money to run while also being good for the environment.

"This is a real estate strategy with a decarbonization goal," Joseph Sumberg, head of Galvanize Real Estate, told Bloomberg. "Capitalism will look at this successful strategy, and replicate it, creating ripples through the built environment."

Decarbonization reduces the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas (CO2) pollution produced through human activities, like burning dirty energy sources to drive our cars and heat or cool our homes. 

Decarbonizing a building involves switching to non-polluting energy sources when possible — like swapping from expensive gas or coal power to cheaper, abundant solar power — and taking steps to minimize total energy use as well.

For example, a homeowner might add more efficient insulation so there's less need to use the HVAC heating and cooling systems to stay at a comfortable temperature. Less HVAC use means less energy use, so the building causes less pollution.

Energy-efficient homes are great for owners and residents, who enjoy far lower energy bills. They're also good for the environment, since potent heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane are the reason our Earth is heating up.

According to The Hill, Galvanize Climate Solutions is not the only large firm investing in such projects. Climate technology company BlocPower has raised $150 million to do the same in low-income communities.

"We're trying to show that doing this is a good investment from an absolute, straight up financial point of view," Steyer told Bloomberg. "The impact and the returns are linked; it's not a trade-off."

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