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Science-Based Targets: A Quick Introduction

This is an introductory post. To find out what Science-Based Targets mean for commercial real estate firms, look out for Part 2. You can join our exclusive mailing list here.


What does it all mean?

Interest in Science-Based Targets (SBTs) has grown significantly following last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (which led to a climate change agreement signed by 195 member states) and more recently at COP22 in Marrakech.

Climate modelling studies point to the influence of human-driven climate change on increasing overall global surface temperatures. SBTs have been established to support achievement of the agreed target which aims to keep global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures (IPCC, 2013). Thus, it is important to situate CO2 emissions within the framework of the past, present and future (IPCC, 2013) and this represents a long-term commitment in tackling climate change.

Science-Based Targets: The Potential?

There is a lot of potential for SBTs, as their use could bolster corporate action on making long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions, as carbon emissions have been proven to enhance the earth’s greenhouse effect, leading to increasing global surface temperatures.

However, SBTs will only be effective because they align to the Paris Agreement’s 2°C target which is a simple, clear goal that not only conveys the urgency of the need for action, but also allows policy-makers to make decisions which have global significance (Rahmstorf, 2014).

How Scientific is a Science-Based Target?

SBTs are scientific in the sense that they align to the 2°C global warming target, but the process that goes into designing a SBT is complex and resource-intensive and may not be transparent to the user. As with climate modelling techniques, tools used to inform SBTs are still undergoing refinements, and to this end, there are still some issues to consider in terms of their practical applications.

To the user, SBTs appear as a ‘black box’ solution. Information on user activities are inputted into the systems and this is used to generate outputs.  However, to the regular user, little known about how the calculations are made. Understanding on how SBTs work will need to develop before we see widespread use.

Science-Based Targets: A 5-Minute Discussion Blog Image 1

Figure 1. A Black Box. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box

Even without a SBT, it makes sense to seek energy-saving measures, apply sustainability strategies to prevent loss of financial value and improve organizational reputation. If used correctly, a SBT can support development of improvement goals and plans. However, such targets can vary according to the context of use, importantly, the data used to inform the target-setting process at the outset. Moving forward, it will be important to assess the applicability of each SBT approach and how it works in practice.

Final Thoughts

There are multiple SBT methodologies out there and results will differ dependent on the approach taken. At a user level the analogy of cake baking using different ovens can be used.  All ingredients are prepared in the same way, however, different ovens lead to differing results. One questions whether multiple different approaches will help to achieve the common goal or will the complexity cause confusion and possibly even slow progress.

SBTs are still in their infancy.  Profile is increasing but understanding is still low. The initiative is certainly thought-provoking and something to look out for in the future. At the present time, SBTs do not have the same weight in the commercial real estate sector than it does in other sectors and take-up has been slow.


Look out for Part 2 in this series: Science-Based Targets: Discussions for Commercial Real Estate


To talk to us about Science-Based Targets and what they mean for your organisation, please get in touch.


Interesting Links:

Science-Based Targets Initiative

COP22 Marrakech

IPCC: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

The Implications of Brexit on Skills and Delivery in a Service-Based Economy

Five-and-a-half years ago I, together with two partners, set up EVORA, a specialist consultancy focused on the delivery of sustainability advice to the real estate industry. Our plan was simple: we believed that the level of sustainability support to real estate businesses was limited. We wanted to create a consultancy that delivered value-adding sustainability advice to the industry as a professional service – something that, in our opinion, was markedly needed.

We have been successful and grown organically; by the end of the year we will have 20 staff. Our approach to recruitment has been simple – recruit the best staff and invest in their development to the benefit of all; individuals, the company and clients. To this end, we introduced a tough recruitment process designed to select the best. All who join have to complete multi-stage phone and face-to-face interviews followed by a timed interview test.

This policy has been successful. We have a strong and competent team. The success of our approach has also been demonstrated by business results. It has also resulted in approximately 25% of our workforce being made up of non-UK, European citizens.

All have been educated at top UK universities (a process that has, in itself, contributed to the UK economy). Furthermore, they continue to contribute to the economy, directly through tax contribution and also significantly, through the provision of consultancy advice that helps to enhance performance and improve competitiveness of our clients’ businesses. We have also expanded service delivery into Europe. We now offer services to UK and European real estate firms investing across the continent.

We would not be where we are today without our team. I also believe that although numbers and percentages are different, our general position and approach will be broadly representative of many other UK based professional service organisations (large and small). So recent political discussions about the mandatory listing of non-UK staff along with possible restrictions and/or limitations on our ability to retain existing staff and freely recruit the best staff available are deeply concerning.

I think it is crucial that UK Government recognises this. I know that this matter has already been raised by many businesses, large and small, however, at EVORA we felt it important to set out our views publicly.

The UK faces turbulent times ahead, and regardless of individual views on the results of the Brexit vote, any decision that impacts British business’s ability to recruit and retain the best staff will have a huge detrimental impact on business and ultimately economic performance.


We’re hiring!

As a growing business, we’re always on the lookout for excellent talent. We always publish vacancies on LinkedIn, so be sure to follow our page.


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Leading the Sustainable Revolution with a Business-Driven Evolution

Sustainable Commercial Solutions rebrands as EVORA


The last five years have been a whirlwind.

Driven by a desire to show that sustainability is a professional service in its own right, and convinced by the value it can deliver to the commercial real estate sector, Paul Sutcliffe, Ed Gabbitas and I launched Sustainable Commercial Solutions back in early 2011.

We haven’t looked back – not that we’ve had any time to!

Since those early days, we:

  • have expanded to a team of 15 (and will soon be 18)
  • are delivering a full scope of sustainability services to major investors across Europe
  • have developed a unique sustainability software system, SIERA, specifically for the property sector, which is taking the market by storm
  • are redefining M&E consultancy with a unique energy-focused offering delivering resource efficiency to major funds
  • have become a GRESB Premier Partner and supported our clients on 41 submissions this year alone, with SIERA delivering immense efficiency and automation

So we’ve been pretty busy!


Driven by Our Values

From our humble beginnings we have held firm to our core values of professionalism, honesty and integrity, with an absolute commitment to deliver the very highest quality of service to our clients in all that we do. I am sure many may say similar things, but we truly live and breathe this with a passion and the trusted long-term relationships we have built up with all our clients are testament to this.

Over the years, our focus has been to passionately develop our advisory services and technology platforms to deliver leading-edge solutions that focus as much on good business sense and a return on investment as delivering on the green agenda. This practical approach has been extremely well received by our clients.


Increasing Our Market Presence

More recently, we have recognised the importance of promoting all that we do. In May this year we brought in Russ Avery, a very talented marketing professional, as our Marketing Director. Since then, there is no doubt our profile has gone through an amazing trajectory but whilst still standing firm to our true values. Numerous thought leadership pieces and important forthcoming events, with collaboration from industry leaders, are enabling us to share our experience and knowledge to a far greater audience; this is really exciting, especially as we see how quickly sustainability is transforming this industry.

But let’s get back to the really exciting news… Sustainable Commercial Solutions is no longer – we are now EVORA.

Russ comments:

“Sustainable Commercial Solutions had always been focused on helping its clients to reap the business rewards of sustainability. But its branding was not reflective of that.

I identified an opportunity for us to own a brand that reflected not only the professional side of sustainability, but also our deep expertise in commercial real estate. To do that, we had to move away from the overused nature-based branding that is typical of the ‘green’ sector, and move more into the professional services realm.

The elegant EVORA logo evokes the visual metaphor of a floorplan and conveys our professional, strategic and planned approach to what can often feel like a minefield to our clients.”

EVORA, although not an acronym, emerged organically from our discussions on the transformation and impact sustainability is having on the property industry, and the associated evolution (EVO) of real estate assets (RA). It also recognises our own evolution and provides us with a strong professional brand, which far better represents our identity.

I am very proud of what we have achieved to date as a committed team of professionals, but this represents a step change for our company and positions us strongly for the future.


To learn more about us, please visit the following page:

Interactive Brochure


The Evolution of Sustainable Commercial Solutions into EVORA

scs-to-evora-rebrand


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