Tom Steyer, Ex-Presidential Candidate, Is Investing In Sustainable Real Estate

Tom Steyer, co-executive chair of Galvanize Climate Solutions and 2020 presidential candidate, recently discussed his plans to launch a new sustainable real estate investment strategy. 

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Tom Steyer is known as a former presidential candidate, political bankroller, climate change activist, and investor. He recently was interviewed by Politico to discuss his new real estate investment strategy which will be taking place under his firm, Galvanize Climate Solutions. 

He discussed his overall plan to buy and “retrofit” multi-family housing, industrial buildings, student housing, and self-storage units as a part of the strategy. 

“We’re going to be doing real estate, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to be doing office buildings. That could include multifamily. That can include student housing, that can include industrial.

Obviously, if you live in San Francisco, because I think we’re sort of the eye of the storm, there’s a real question about not whether there’s a need for commercial real estate, but how much of a need is there for commercial real estate in terms of square feet. And obviously in markets where there is as much demand as there is supply, then a whole bunch of things happen, including when vacancies go up, and that means rents go down and all kinds of valuation issues come into play,” Steyer explained.

“We believe that this strategy of actually doing sustainable real estate is something which is going to have higher returns that has a huge tailwind to it. We believe that the climate response is a gigantic investable area. We’re dedicated to climate response, but we also believe that it will lead to higher returns because it has to happen and there’s a huge demand for it.”

Steyer is planning to focus on investing in properties located in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Texas. “You want to be in places that have the characteristics of a positive market to be in. Part of that is just regular old real estate. And part of it is we want to be in places where we’re going to be able to put this through in a way so that we make sure that it adds to the returns.”

Steyer is planning to invest in properties where they can dramatically reduce carbon footprints by retrofitting the locations into places that can benefit the community. While Steyer has a past in politics, he’s now planning on dedicating a majority of his time to his investment firm, sustainable practices, and this project. 

“I am totally focused on building this company. That is what I do with 100 percent of my time. For a long time, I was not investing my own money because I was trying to be a climate advocate for eight or nine years, full time, and investing is a full-time job.”

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“I think we’re at the execution phase of climate. The conversation is over. If you read what the CEO of Exxon says, or the CEO of Chevron, you can’t decide if they’re running a summer camp, or they’re just full-time environmentalists. This conversation is over. There’s no one who’s really a climate denier.”

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Basically, I’m going to put all of my time and all my money into building this because I believe this is a gigantic problem and also a massive opportunity.

What I do know how to define is an investor who looks to the future. We’re talking about climate. We’re talking about making business decisions for the future, which includes an awareness that, ‘Oh, by the way, we have this huge crisis that we’re going to have to solve.’ So this is just dollars and cents.

If you tell me as an investor, ‘You can’t think about the future and anticipate it,’ I say, ‘Okay, so you’re telling me I can’t be an investor,’ because that’s what investing is. That’s all of it. You’re telling me, ‘You should go do what happened in the past?’ That’s a recipe to go broke,” Steyer stated.