June 2, 2020 – BERKELEY, CA – Four Twenty Seven’s data on climate-related risks is now available on Measurabl’s real estate data platform.
Measurabl is the world’s most widely adopted ESG software for commercial real estate, and Four Twenty Seven’s physical risk data is now available in a new Physical Climate Risk Exposure tool on Measurabl’s investment grade ESG (environmental, social, governance) data hub. Through this integration Measurabl customers can now identify their physical climate risks to inform opportunities to build resilience across their real estate portfolios.
As the effects of climate change worsen, real estate companies are feeling tangible impacts. Properties exposed to rising sea levels rise in the United States sell at about 7% less compared with similar, unexposed properties. Severe climate events such as hurricanes are occurring more frequently and costing billions of dollars in damage to assets. Additionally, companies face growing regulatory and investor pressures to disclose climate-related financial risks in line with frameworks like the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).
Yet today, real estate owners and lenders lack transparency into the forward-looking impacts of climate-related threats on their assets and find it difficult to collect and analyze physical climate risk data in a meaningful, comprehensive way.
For each building in a portfolio, Measurabl’s Physical Climate Risk Exposure tool provides Four Twenty Seven’s data for the five key climate hazards of floods, heat stress, hurricanes & typhoons, sea level rise and water stress, as well as earthquakes. The tool identifies the level of risk an asset faces for each hazard and allows users to sort, filter and export Four Twenty Seven’s physical risk data by property type, risk category, and risk level. Users can access this data from Measurabl’s centralized software alongside relevant ESG performance metrics and analytics. This new release improves transparency and enables lenders and investors to better assess and manage their risk.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the leading ESG data management platform to provide unprecedented levels of transparency to real estate owners and managers worldwide,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Four Twenty Seven. “As climate change increasingly causes financial damage to real assets, this partnership helps fill the urgent demand for data to help the real estate industry prepare for the impacts of climate change.”
Physical climate risk data analyzed in tandem with ESG performance provides real estate and capital markets new opportunities to assess their risks and build more resilient portfolios in a central hub. Through advanced understanding of these risks, the built environment and capital markets will be empowered to make data-driven decisions on risk mitigation and strategic investments.
“The evolution of Measurabl’s software to include climate risk data was a natural development as we continue to build the best-in-class ESG –and now “R” – platform for commercial real estate,” said Matt Ellis, Founder and CEO of Measurabl. “The union of physical climate risks with ESG creates unparalleled transparency for climate-related financial decisions and disclosures.”
Introduction: Why Climate Risk Matters for Asset Owners
In the world where quarterly corporate reporting makes it feel like financial markets are ruled by short-termism, asset owners stand out in contrast, managing their portfolios with horizons in the decades and even longer. With trillions in assets under management and the long-term well-being of their beneficiaries and other stakeholders as their goal, asset owners’ risk management practices must be robust. This includes the consideration of factors beyond traditional financial metrics. While their long horizon allows asset owners to withstand short-term volatility, their portfolios may be exposed to higher levels of other risks, including those posed by a changing climate, which is not necessarily accounted for in asset prices.
Additionally, regulatory actions like the EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, growing global support of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and groups like the Network for Greening the Financial System, whose members include 42 central banks and supervisors, are pushing investors of all stripes to take physical climate risks into account, warning of dire systemic consequences if climate risks continue to go unpriced.
With climate risk moving from the fringes of finance to center stage, the challenge is to translate climate models and climate data into actionable intelligence for financial decision-making. Climate models are complex, incorporating information from many disciplines of earth science, and their outputs are unwieldy. However, when transformed into indicators at appropriate scales and timeframes, climate data provides essential forward-looking information for financial decision-makers.
Assessing Exposure to Inform Risk Management
Evaluating an asset’s exposure to physical climate hazards is challenging, yet also an essential first step in managing climate risks. Four Twenty Seven’s Physical Climate Risk Application (Application) allows investors to assess exposure to floods, sea level rise, hurricanes & typhoons, heat stress and water stress at the asset and portfolio levels. Asset owners leverage hazard exposure scores to identify regional and sectoral trends as well as specific hotspots. Flexible viewing options and digestible data provide insight for portfolio risk assessments and due diligence processes. Armed with climate risk data at decision-relevant scales, asset owners can begin to manage their risk.
Climate Data for Portfolio Management
Real estate, infrastructure, agriculture, timber and other real assets have long been an integral component of an asset owner’s portfolio due to their returns and the diversification they offer to the overall fund. However, many real assets are highly vulnerable to physical climate risks. These risks manifest in direct and indirect ways, including increased costs, reduced revenues, and decreased asset value.
Asset owners use Four Twenty Seven’s Application to evaluate forward-looking physical climate risk exposure. For example, the portfolio-specific summary table in Figure 1 provides a snapshot of exposure and serves as the starting point for the analysis of physical climate risks. In this portfolio, hurricanes & typhoons, earthquakes, heat stress and water stress are the most prevalent hazards.
While asset owners frequently emphasize the hazards they view as most financially material—for instance floods, hurricanes, and sea level rise—heat stress and water stress can also have material financial impacts. For instance, a major heat wave across Europe in the summer of 2019 demonstrated how increasing temperatures can cause business disruptions and raise operating costs. Absent retrofits to address climate risks in European real estate, the total increase in energy bills for commercial buildings could potentially cost $300 billion (£457 billion) by 2050. Water stress, another potentially overlooked risk, can threaten the long-term operations of assets like thermal power plants that rely on large amounts of water for cooling. For example, Moody’s found that 11 major U.S. utilities representing over $31 billion in rate base have extreme risk to water stress, which has already caused some power utilities to retire capital-intensive generation facilities early.
In addition to providing an entry point for further analysis, metrics in the summary table are useful for risk reporting. As reporting requirements develop, outputs from the Physical Climate Risk Application will empower asset owners to effectively describe asset exposure, communicate how risks are being managed, and characterize their portfolios’ overall climate risk and resilience strategies.
Asset owners can also identify exposure hotspots, explore sectoral trends, and dive deeper into the exposure of individual assets. Figure 2 shows the same portfolio ranked by highest flood risk score. Floods can raise costs, cause business disruption, and decrease asset values.
Using the data in Figure 2, asset owners can consider shortening their holding periods for assets with the highest levels of exposure, ensure that they have appropriate insurance coverage, and evaluate if coverage or premium prices may rise in the future. As the climate changes, insurers’ risk tolerances may also reach their limits and they may seek to exit markets. It is thus essential for asset owners to monitor the evolving landscape. Beyond evaluating potential changes to insurance, asset owners can also use this data as an entry point for engagement with a building manager, to better understand the site’s flood history and investigate if the asset has flood defenses.
Institutional investors understand that, over the typical commercial real estate hold period of seven to ten years, the next buyer of their building is likely to be concerned by climate risk as well. The Application equips asset owners with the exposure data they need to make sure their portfolios are resilient to climate risks and continue to provide the returns they need and expect from the asset class.
Climate Data for Due Diligence
Beyond analyzing portfolios of existing holdings, the application’s real-time scoring allows asset owners to quickly incorporate physical climate analysis into their due diligence processes for new acquisitions. In addition to providing easily digestible, high-level screening results, granular climate data allows clients to continue to invest, for example, in valuable coastal markets with known exposure. Figure 3 shows exposure of nine facilities in Tokyo, where the combination of storm surge and sea level rise could cause $1 trillion (100 trillion yen) in damages in a 1-in-100 year storm. Because the sea level rise (and flood) data featured in the Application is at a scale of 90 x 90 meters, investors do not need to eliminate entire markets from their investment strategies. Rather than exiting a profitable market, asset owners can use the Four Twenty Seven Physical Climate Risk Application to selectively invest in assets with lower exposure.
Asset owners often use Four Twenty Seven data to set their own internal thresholds for further due diligence. Using the detailed site information, as shown in Figure 4, as well as the downloadable scorecard, analysts can quickly understand which hazards to investigate further.
Some investors require further due diligence for any assets that receive “High” or “Red Flag” scores. Deal teams may be tasked to investigate asset-specific features that would make it more resilient to specific climate hazards, such as freeboard above base flood elevation, onsite power generators, or water efficiency measures.
Real assets, whose time horizon of returns aligns well with the investment goals of asset owners, are exposed to physical hazards, which will continue to become more frequent and severe. Exploring asset-level climate hazard exposure is the first step to analyzing and ultimately managing physical climate risk. As regulation around climate risk rapidly evolves, mandates to monitor and report these risks will also expand. Equipped with a detailed understanding of their portfolio holdings’ exposure, asset owners are empowered to make better-informed investment and risk management decisions, ultimately enhancing the resilience of their portfolios to physical climate risk.
Four Twenty Seven offers on-demand physical climate risk scoring for real assets and other climate risk datasets for investors to assess their risk across asset classes. Learn more about Four Twenty Seven’s data or reach out to schedule a demo.
February 27, 2020 – BERKELEY, CA – Four Twenty Seven, an affiliate of Moody’s and the leading publisher of climate data for financial markets, today announces the release of a new on-demand climate risk scoring tool. This application responds to the financial sector’s growing call for the seamless integration of granular, forward-looking climate data into investment decisions and risk management practices.
Users are able to enter location and other data via an intuitive interface and immediately receive information on their assets’ exposure for floods, sea level rise, hurricanes & typhoons, heat stress and water stress to mid-century. The application allows users to browse and download detailed facility scorecards that include data on the underlying risk drivers for each hazard. The application also enables users to toggle between maps and tables to identify regional trends and multi-hazard exposure. Users can perform analyses for large volumes of locations via an API and integrate the outputs into downstream risk management and portfolio analysis applications.
As the material financial impacts of climate change become increasingly evident, understanding and preparing for climate risks is essential. Real estate investors can use Four Twenty Seven’s physical climate risk app for due diligence and proactive risk management across their portfolio of properties. Portfolio managers can leverage the application to report climate risk exposure and enhance portfolio decision-making. Asset owners can evaluate long-term risk exposure and engage with corporations and managers to improve resilience. Banks can score thousands of locations at once to identify risk in commercial and residential lending portfolios. Corporations can identify risk hotspots and opportunities to build resilience in their global operations.
“We are excited to bring our on-demand physical climate risk application to the market. Our app provides access to sophisticated climate model outputs in easily understandable metrics with just a few clicks,” says Four Twenty Seven’s Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati. “Real-time access to forward-looking, location-specific data on climate risk enables investors, banks and corporations to manage their risk and invest in resilience.”
The planet has just finished its hottest decade on record, leaving municipalities and businesses wondering how best to prepare for the future. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of both extreme weather events like storms and heat waves, and chronic stresses like drought and sea level rise, the past is no longer an accurate prediction of the present.
While Canada’s latitude and geography makes it less exposed to widespread threats such as heat stress and hurricanes, its exposure to water stress and floods, alongside its economic dependency on water-heavy industries such as extraction, refining and manufacturing, does present significant risks. From striving to keep their residents safe, to supporting regional businesses, maintaining economic prosperity and minimizing costs, there are many reasons that municipal leaders need to understand and prepare for climate impacts.
This article outlines how climate risk presents economic risks to municipalities, as well as the investors with assets in the jurisdictions, and describes case studies of economic risk exposure in Canadian cities.
Why it Matters
Climate change poses economic risks to municipalities by impacting key companies, reducing the tax base, and affecting the budget. When companies that make up significant portions of a municipality’s economy — by way of revenue, taxes and employment —are disrupted by climate change, this has negative implications for the municipality. If these events happen repeatedly, it’s likely that jobs and, potentially the population, will decline, reducing the municipality’s revenue from taxes.
For example, low snowfall and a record dry summer in 2013 and 2014 led to reduced hydropower generation in Canada’s Northwest Territories, with implications for businesses with high power demands such as manufacturing and mining. These industries make up significant portions of Canada’s economy and an increase in water stress is likely to have enduring impacts.
Extreme weather events also lead to increased costs for municipalities in the form of emergency relief and rebuilding. For example, in Spring 2019 thousands were evacuated during flooding in Eastern Canada due to high snow melt combined with heavy rainfall, with costs expected to be in the hundreds of millions. At the time there was relatively low overland flood insurance coverage, so there were significant uninsured costs. These events also disrupt transit infrastructure, with implications for commutes and regional business operations.
Increasing expenditures on emergency relief can have implications for municipalities’ other budget items, debt reserves and ultimately their ability to repay loans. Likewise, persistent regional disruptions can have material impacts on businesses with key assets in the area.
Read the full article at Public Sector Digest.
Aggregated Four Twenty Seven climate risk data is now available on the Moody’s Analytics commercial real estate (CRE) platform, the REIS Network. This platform allows users to search extensive real estate data from many applications. Read the press release from Moody’s Analytics:
NEW YORK, February 4, 2020 – Moody’s Analytics is pleased to announce that data and analytics from Four Twenty Seven are now available on the REIS Network, its flagship commercial real estate (CRE) data platform. This combination of data and analytics enables CRE professionals to better understand the exposure of their real estate assets to the physical impacts of climate change, and to factor that insight into their investment decision-making processes.
Four Twenty Seven, which is majority-owned by Moody’s, provides scores and portfolio analytics that quantify exposures to the physical impacts of climate change across a range of asset classes. Each location is analyzed for vulnerability to the physical risks of climate-related factors and other environmental issues such as heat stress, water stress, sea level rise, floods, and extreme weather events.
REIS Network users now have access to aggregated climate risk scores from Four Twenty Seven, which show climate risk threshold levels for commercial property locations ranging from ‘no risk’ to ‘red flag’ or extremely high risk. Together with property data and analytical tools from Moody’s Analytics and our Network partners, the REIS Network is a modular solution offering a holistic view of more than 7 million US CRE locations. Users can transfer data from one product to another within the REIS network of applications and compare multiple sources simultaneously.
“Increasing frequency and intensity of climate events means that understanding the physical impacts of climate change is a priority for all organizations. CRE market participants are particularly exposed to physical risks associated with climate hazards, which could severely impact properties and surrounding communities,” said Keith Berry, Head of the Moody’s Analytics Accelerator. “We are proud to collaborate with our colleagues at Four Twenty Seven to enable more multi-faceted analysis of commercial locations in alignment with our goal of becoming a leading source of data and analytics for the CRE market.”
“We are excited to see the addition of Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk analytics to the Moody’s Analytics REIS Network,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven. “It demonstrates the complementary analytical capabilities of Moody’s and Four Twenty Seven, which together provide an ideal path to help market participants identify the best opportunities that meet their risk profile.”
This collaboration demonstrates Moody’s ongoing commitment, as a global integrated risk assessment firm, to advancing global standards for evaluating climate change, environmental, social and governance (ESG), and sustainable finance risks.
Click here to learn more about the Moody’s Analytics REIS Network.
Click here to learn more about Four Twenty Seven.
January 29, 2020 – 427 ANALYSIS. As Australia’s bushfires rage on, questions arise on the long-term impacts on human health, biodiversity and the economy. This analysis shares lessons learned from the recovery from recent wildfires in California to offer some pointers of what might happen when the bushfires finally subside. While immediate economic impacts include emergency relief bills, business interruptions, costly loss of goods and reduction in tourism, the long-term impacts vary based on municipalities’ financial resources, economic make-up and preparedness.
Real Estate Markets
Over the past three years wildfires have razed thousands of buildings across California, destroying multiple communities. The impacts on real estate markets varies depending on the share of properties destroyed in a local community, as well as insurance penetration. After five percent of Santa Rosa’s housing stock burned in 2017, the city experienced an increase in property prices and rents following the fire: displaced households needed new dwellings, construction workers and emergency relief officials needed housing and amenities, and local businesses found new clientele. Although an estimated 3,300 people left Sonoma County after the 2017 fires, in Santa Rosa, CA, rebuilding has occurred more rapidly than expected. The areas affected by the fires had relatively high insurance rates, and families were able to pay for the reconstruction of their houses. Irreplaceable personal items were lost, but the city experienced a mini-economic boom due to construction in the area.
In contrast, the city of Paradise went from 26,000 residents before the Camp Fire down to 2,000. More than one year later, only a handful of houses have been rebuilt, and many residents struggle with whether they should move back. Insurance penetration was much lower in Paradise, and many low-income households cannot afford to rebuild their lives there.
Aside from short-term shortages in housing stock, long-term impacts on real estate and local economies depend on two main factors: whether the area experienced a permanent or long-term population loss, and whether insurance companies continue to offer policies for the area. This phenomenon has also been at play after other climate-related events, such as when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The storm led to a four percent decrease in the island’s population.
Impacts can also indirectly touch other communities near wildfires: the same Camp Fire that devastated Paradise narrowly missed the neighboring city of Chico, CA. While Paradise’s economy has yet to recover, within three months of the fire, Chico’s population grew by 20%, with the addition of about 20,000 people. While Chico became the nation’s hottest real estate market the month after the fire, it also missed relief funds offered to towns touched by flames. From a sewer system now tasked with transporting 600,000 more gallons per day, to the need for more police force and a higher hospital demand, a year after the event, the city struggled to accommodate a population the city planners hadn’t expected for a decade.
In California, the biggest impact was on the utility sector. As power lines and electric equipment were found to have started the wildfires, the liability ultimately resulted in Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) bankruptcy, coined “the first climate-change bankruptcy.” In Australia fires are most often started by dry lightning so utilities are not so exposed to liability risk, but may still be exposed to significant costs from disruptions and repairs associated with wildfires.
The insurance sector is also very exposed. Merced Property and Casualty local insurance company went bankrupt after California’s Paradise fire. The company had USD23 million (AUD34 million) in assets and owed USD64 million (AUD94 million) in liabilities after the fire, which the state of California took over after the company defaulted. Insurance claims for the bushfires have already reached around AU939 million (USD646 million). Australian insurance companies could face material losses, particularly those with concentrated portfolios of properties or companies in regions affected by the fires.
For example, insurer IAG is the primary insurer in New South Wales and is thus expected to face the most financial risk from the current fires. IAG and Suncorp have both temporarily stopped selling wildfire insurance in exposed areas of Australia, to prevent last-minute insurance purchases. The final bill may be absorbed by reinsurance companies, which also need to contend with multiple, costly events globally. Increased losses, even if they do not lead to a bankruptcy, can also open the door to liability. In 2019 insurance giant QBE saw a shareholder resolution regarding its lack of preparedness for climate impacts.
Beyond utilities and insurance, businesses across sectors face several short-term risks from wildfires, including business interruptions, labor shortages and reduced consumer activity due to evacuations or smoke which can affect urban centers not themselves touched by flames. Businesses may also face increased costs due to equipment and property damage or loss. In the long term, recurring wildfires could decrease attractiveness of certain parts of Australia, which would reduce companies’ hiring pool and decrease tourism revenues.
Residents’ decisions to stay in a recovering area is largely affected by whether insurance companies choose to provide coverage or pull out after wildfires. This in turn, is a key factor in the viability of long-term development and the strength of cities’ tax bases. Faced with potential population loss, local governments may attempt to provide public insurance if private insurers leave a city or region, such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the U.S. However, as seen with the NFIP, this mechanism can lead to unsustainable development and a moral hazard, encouraging unwise economic decisions by shifting risks from the individual buying property, to the government and therefore the public.
The desire to help an area rebuild needs to be balanced against a forward-looking perspective on the new realities of climate change. As temperatures increase, droughts become more common and wildfire conditions become more frequent, climate change will make some areas no longer suitable for human settlement. In California some insurers have stopped offering wildfire insurance to certain fire-prone counties. After careful deliberation the state recommended the creation of a Wildfire Victims Fund to help pay claims to wildfire victims, while also supporting wildfire mitigation. However, this comes alongside recommendations to require home and community fire risk reduction standards, establish a development fee for new construction in the wildland-urban interface, and mandate that new development must be reachable by firefighters within a maximum amount of time.
The impact of wildfires on a city’s credit rating may also affect its economic prospects after an event. Issuers in Sonoma County were not downgraded after the 2017 fires, because of their strong credit quality, insurance coverage, commitment to rebuilding and long-term economic viability. The County has an emergency reserve fund, which helped make up the shortfall in property taxes for destroyed properties, assuaging any concern from rating agencies on their balance sheet post-disaster.
However, a Moody’s credit analyst noted that smaller, less well-resourced communities like those burned during the 2018 fires in rural Shasta County, will face less rapid rebuilding, which means less revenue and more difficulty repaying their debt. This highlights the need for proactive preparedness efforts, particularly as those municipalities in particular need of financing may see credit declines if they experience wildfire loss.
Hidden Costs: Health Impacts
Wildfires’ impacts on human health can be long-lasting and widespread. While Paradise, CA burned down in 2018 San Francisco, about 200 miles away, had the worst air quality in the world. This led to school closures and business disruptions during the event, but its impacts are still being felt. Three to five months after Sonoma County’s 2017 fires there was a 20% increase in emergency room visits for breathing challenges, as well as a 20% increase in visits for cardiac problems three months after those fires. While populations are advised to stay inside to shelter from smoke, many evacuation victims do not have that option.
Suburban wildfire smoke is particularly dangerous because burning gas stations, buildings, cars and other man-made materials releases many toxins, along with tiny PM 2.5 particles. The long-term impacts of inhaling countless chemicals are not yet fully understood but will likely exacerbate the well-documented damage to lungs and hearts caused by PM 2.5 particles. As public health costs increase, municipalities’ expenses may rise and human productivity may decline, posing additional risk to economies and communities made fragile by wildfire.
Preparing for a New Normal
Recent attempts at risk mitigation highlight the challenges to improve prevention. In October and November 2019 over a million Californian’s lost power during multiple PG&E “Public Safety Power Shutoffs,” meant to reduce the risk of wildfire during “red flag” conditions, with high winds and warm temperatures. With less than a day’s notice in some cases, residents, businesses and schools around San Francisco’s Bay Area spent days without power. Elderly and those relying on medical equipment faced life threatening hardship, local businesses experienced significant loss, long-term, high-profile research was disrupted, and costs of the event were expected to be around USD2 billion (AUD3 billion).
Australia and California used to share firefighting resources since they didn’t need them at the same time, and firefighting contractors built their businesses around staggered fire seasons. Now, Australia and California fight fires concurrently, business models must shift and municipalities must reallocate resources.
As climate change increases the occurrences of wildfires across the globe, policymakers and communities will need to balance these considerations and invest in adaptation and resilience to limit the impact of future fires.
Natalie Ambrosio contributed to this analysis.
Four Twenty Seven works with investors and businesses to provide portfolio hotpot screenings and real time due diligence with site-specific data on heat stress, water stress and other climate risks. Wildfire analytics are forthcoming. Contact us for more detailed analysis and site-specific data on climate risk exposure and its economic impacts.