Cover art for podcast City of the Future

City of the Future

27 EpisodesProduced by Sidewalk LabsWebsite

We explore the innovations and ideas that will transform our cities.


Episode 20: The ”S” in ESG

E-S-G. If you haven’t heard that term before, it stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. It’s a framework that investors use to help them decide whether or not to put money into a company. Over the last 20 years, investors have increasingly embraced the “E” in ESG, and ESG funds are now consistently driving strong returns. In fact, 2020 was the biggest year for ESG-investing yet.  

With the events of 2020, the “S” of ESG — which includes some of society’s toughest problems, like economic opportunity and racial inequity — has come to the forefront. Investors are, more and more, pursuing socially-minded ESG investments. And this pivot has huge implications for real estate, as investors are now ready and willing to lend capital to real estate companies that are pursuing projects with real social and racial impact.

But what do those projects look like, and how can real estate transform the development process to achieve them? As we’ve explored throughout this season of City of the Future, developing socially-minded projects is a complex undertaking. Our season finale explores ways developers can begin to figure out what this “S” piece of ESG means. And if they can, it’s not just real estate that will benefit — our cities will, too.

In this episode:

  • [00:00 - 05:34] The founder and CEO of Green Generation, Brad Dockser, describes investors’ embrace of the “E” of ESG.
  • [05:35 - 8:29] Associate director of inclusive development at Sidewalk Labs, Chrystal Dean, explains why it’s time for development to tackle the “S” of ESG.
  • [08:30 - 15:07] The principal and CEO of Direct Invest Development, Carlton Brown, talks about the kinds of long-term, socially-minded metrics developers need to track.
  • [15:08 - 19:22] Director of development and external affairs for Farpoint Development, Morgan Malone, explains how to create social metrics in collaboration with communities.
  • [19:23 - 27:07] The hosts, Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe, discuss the development business case for socially-minded projects with associate director of inclusive development at Sidewalk Labs, Chrystal Dean.

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page at

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Guglielmo Mattioli. Story editing by Rough Cut Collective and Benjamin Walker. Mix is by Andrew Callaway. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Brad Dockser, Carlton Brown, Chrystal Dean, and Morgan Malone.

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