CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. said it would go "carbon neutral" by 2010 -- cutting its creation of greenhouse gases to virtually nothing by reducing energy use and, if necessary, buying carbon offsets.
The National Resources Defense Council said the El Segundo-based company was the first major commercial real estate services company to declare its commitment to environmentally friendly practices meant to reduce global warming.
"Most people think about power plants and cars, and don't realize that energy-efficient buildings can have a huge impact on global warming benefits," Ashok Gupta of the NRDC said.
The advocacy group said it would work with CB Richard Ellis in implementing the initiative.
Thousands of new commercial buildings such as offices and stores are being built to green specifications, but existing properties offer even greater opportunities for reducing the demand for fossil fuels, Gupta said.
CB Richard Ellis manages 1.7 billion square feet of commercial space for building owners and represents millions more square feet every year as a broker to both landlords and tenants. In coming years it will try to get that space more efficient by persuading owners and renters to invest in improvements and change their energy practices.
"Many of our clients are well down the road in this area and are leaders in their own fields," said Brett White, chief executive of CB Richard Ellis. "We're helping with this evolution they started several years ago."
For example, upgrades to heating and air-conditioning systems and shifts to more cost-effective lighting systems can substantially reduce buildings' energy use and lower utility bills.
The company said it was also prepared to buy carbon offsets, a practice in which companies agree to plant trees or take other measures to compensate for the creation of greenhouse gases.