Oct 24, 2023

5 Questions: ClimateCheck CEO Cal Inman

Risk | by Tess Townsend, Director of Communications | 2 Minutes

Cal Inman brings 20 years of real estate investment experience to his role as ClimateCheck’s co-founder and CEO. His work as a developer of creative mixed-use projects in the Bay Area drove him to better understand the climate risk to his own investments. That real-world experience helps ClimateCheck develop products and services with our clients’ needs in mind. Our robust data and expert analysis give equity investors, environmental consultants, lenders, data analytics firms — and more — the insight they need to protect their portfolios and prevent losses caused by climate hazards.

1. ClimateCheck: What do you do as the CEO of climate risk data provider ClimateCheck?

ClimateCheck CEO Inman: I help facilitate amazing people doing amazing work. Our chief analysts hold PhDs in geography, computer science, and atmospheric science from UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. We work with leading academics from institutions like UCLA, Tulane University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research to ensure our methodologies are sound and draw real-world implications from our data. Our co-founder, Sam Eckhouse, and I bring tech and real estate expertise to the table, respectively. As a company, we’re very product-focused, so I spend a lot of my time coordinating between customers and the product team to constantly improve what ClimateCheck can do.

Working front and center with customers is one of the best and most productive ways I spend my time. We always want to learn how consultants, financial analysts, investors and lenders are using ClimateCheck and how we can improve what we offer. That facetime gives us insight into the pain points they’re trying to overcome, which informs how we approach our product and processes.

2. ClimateCheck: What was your background before joining ClimateCheck?

Inman: I’ve been working in real estate investment in the Bay Area for almost 20 years. My focus is urban infill, primarily new construction and value-add multifamily investments and mixed-use development. My experience as a developer in California inspired the company and informs how we work with our customers. I understand how the end customers of ClimateCheck products use our data and think about risk management, due diligence, and value protection, whether it’s the GP, LP, or lender.

I also teach master’s students at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design. My professional practice course covers the fundamentals of real estate development to prepare students for careers in private and nonprofit development. We follow the entire life cycle of real estate development, with a focus on timing and decisions in the development process, the roles and responsibilities of third parties, and reports and work products associated with development management.

3. ClimateCheck: What drew you to work in the field of climate risk data?

Inman: A fear of the known unknowns. I wanted to better understand how climate change was putting my investments at risk. Properties at low elevations along the San Francisco Bay are at risk of flooding, while projects along wildland-urban interfaces here in Northern California are at risk of wildfires. The 1991 firestorm in the Berkeley-Oakland Hills is just one example of that type of hazard, but we’ve experienced many wildfire events here that have caused significant losses for our communities and are driving insurance costs up.

We read about climate change every day, and we experience its effects. As a Bay Area resident, I’ve experienced smoke from massive wildfires, atmospheric rivers, and extreme heat waves in a region that’s historically known to be pretty temperate. Real estate stakeholders need easy access to reliable data to inform major decisions about how to manage properties, grow portfolios, or adapt lending practices. With ClimateCheck, we saw an opportunity to offer the best data available in a transparent manner and with deliverables that meet our clients’ unique needs.

4. ClimateCheck: Why do investors and enterprises in the real estate space need to stay on top of climate risk?

Inman: Climate risk is affecting our built environment by contributing to extreme weather that can damage or destroy buildings and infrastructure. We’re seeing energy costs and other operating expenses increase, we’re seeing insurance rates go higher and some insurance companies are even pulling out of risky regions. These are material risks to your bottom line. You need to think about what parts of your business are exposed to physical climate risk, and you need to make sure properties in which you have a stake — whether as investor, lender or tenant — are shored up against the right risks.

At the same time, climate risk is also reshaping the regulatory environment. In the United States, the SEC has proposed mandatory climate risk disclosures; in Canada, regulators issued Guideline B-15, which directs how federally-regulated financial institutions should assess and disclose climate-related risks. International standards organization ASTM is also working on its own guide pertaining to climate risk to property.

Those are a lot of changes to keep up on. Those who aren’t adapting now will be forced to later. Real estate stakeholders that start to integrate climate risk into their operations now — even if just to be informed — won’t have to scramble. I want our customers to understand that they can use ClimateCheck to inform risk mitigation decisions and stay two steps ahead of regulatory requirements.

5. ClimateCheck: Is there a silver lining to climate risk?

Inman: Amid all the bad news and dire predictions about climate change, one positive development is that we can still change course and mitigate its worst effects if we act quickly. Another is that we have the ability to use projections based on climate risk data to help us prepare for when and where climate-related hazards will strike next. That’s something I’m really proud of—giving our customers the tools they need to prepare today and protect themselves in the future.

Stay on top of climate risk disclosure requirements by working with a reliable climate risk data provider. ClimateCheck’s well-rounded team of climate science and real estate experts use the latest data to produce clear and complete risk assessments across multiple hazards. Our deliverables include portfolio risk reports, individual property risk reports, raw data, and more. You can learn more about our team and climate risk data and assessments here.

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