Today we are discussing how green is the property industry in 2020? In the year of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, climate change has been propelled into the forefront of our conversations so much so that the Collins Word(s) of the Year 2019 was “climate strike”.
In this wave of climate change awareness and action, the discussion has moved from personal responsibility to a spotlight on parliament and corporate action and commitment. The UK government has declared a “climate emergency” and was the first first-world country to promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. In additon, the UK is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in late 2020.
The property industry is one of the largest in terms of material consumptions and interdependence on oil, gas and electricity. Therefore they have had to face the question on what they can do to play their part in this change. We are bringing together a summary of a few initiatives from within the industry…
Value the Planet
– RICS have launched a Value the Planet campaign & committed to form a climate change expert panel. As part of the campaign RICS has also launched a Responsible Business Report which includes solutions for companies to operate greener, including introducing higher recycling rates and reducing energy, transport and water use, where possible.
Climate Change Commitment
– 23 of the UK’s leading commercial property owners have signed the Climate Change Commitment to tackle the growing risks of climate change through the delivery of net zero carbon real estate portfolios by 2050. The commitment by Better Buildings Partnership has been signed by 23 of its members (including Canary Wharf Group), covering over £300bn AUM and +11,000 commercial properties globally, and responsible for over 1.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.
– AXA IM – Real Assets is developing a 1.4msq ft scheme at TwentyTwo Bishopsgate in the heart of the City of London. The developement features smart technology specifically designed to reduce the development’s environmental impact. Undoubtedly this high investment project is set to be a beacon of inspiration for smaller, more affordable developments.
Accelerator Cities Pathfinder
– UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) is a network of organisations with a commitment to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment. One of UKGBC’s key projects is the Accelerator Cities Pathfinder. By working with various city authorities and expert stakeholders, UKGBC are aiming to create a “long-term, city-led home retrofit programme, one that moves beyond stop-start policy and short term pilots, and instead provides a stable way of achieving the scale of home retrofit needed if we are to meet the UK’s target to be net zero by 2050.”
Conversely, despite the range of green initiatives from within the property industry, the RICS global survey of commercial and construction market professionals revealed that 47% of UK investors are not concerned by climate change risks.
So, what does this all mean? In the property industry we share the responsibility of creating a more sustainable built landscape for the future of the planet. Therefore the pledge for a net-zero carbon emission is only going to be achieved if sustainability is adopted by every organisation and continues to be in the forefront of decision making.