Biodiversity: enhancing the built environment

EVORA support many of our real estate clients to develop sustainability strategies and management systems.  The overriding objective of approaches developed is to establish plans that help our clients understand their impacts, manage risks and, perhaps most importantly, drive performance improvement.  Often, and unsurprisingly we focus on energy, carbon, water and waste.

However, there are wider opportunities. Biodiversity can often be pushed down the agenda.  Real estate owners can develop programmes designed to positively contribute to biodiversity.  As you will see in the rest of my blog, I consider this to be very important.

So what is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity, in simple terms, means the variety of life, in all its forms and at all levels. This ranges from genes to species to ecosystems – everything that collectively forms the biological diversity on Earth.

In short, biodiversity is a good thing.  It is essential in maintaining a healthy environment and therefore, has an impact on our quality of life.

The decline of biodiversity has serious consequences and its protection and enhancement is essential if we are to achieve a sustainable future. We depend on biodiversity for food, health, natural resources and a range of ecosystem services such as air and water purification, soil fertility and plant pollination. Maintaining biodiversity is also crucial to the development and discovery of new medicines.

The variety of life, in all its forms and at all levels. This ranges from genes to species to ecosystems – everything that collectively forms the biological diversity on Earth.

Increasing urbanisation is contributing to the decline of biodiversity due to the loss and division of natural habitats. Providing opportunities for biodiversity in our built environment is one way that it can be protected and enhanced.

Development schemes can utilise a number of approaches including Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) – a quantitative, stepwise methodology that aims to enhance biodiversity after development. However, we are increasingly being asked for advice on how Biodiversity can be implemented into strategies, by clients who manage standing investment funds.

Several BNG principles are valuable for application to existing real estate assets, notably: to achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity, to optimise sustainability and to be transparent.


Biodiversity in action

Implementation of approaches to support these aims will result in greener, more biodiverse assets that not only offer homes for wildlife but can also provide wider benefits for people, such as improved air quality and health and wellbeing. It also gives asset managers positive news stories to tell and helps to create great places for people to live and work.

So, in simple terms, what can be done?

Real Estate Organisations can raise the profile of biodiversity within the workplace by:

  • Assessing the material risks and opportunities associated with biodiversity across portfolios;
  • Ensuring staff have understood these risks and opportunities;
  • Raise awareness amongst suppliers;
  • Implementing practical approaches – suitable for assets in question. If you are struggling to contextualise, think;
    – Green walls
    – Beehives
    – Indoor and outdoor planting regimes
    – Although many more opportunities exist
  • Report publicly on organisational performance with regards to biodiversity.

Organisations, wishing to progress further can:

  • Develop site-specific Biodiversity Strategies or Action Plans for managed assets, with the aim of achieving enhancements for selected species and/or habitats identified in the Local, Regional or National Biodiversity Action Plan;
  • Incorporate specific biodiversity objectives within asset management plans;
  • Collect biodiversity data e.g. number of plant types considered pollinators;
  • Where handing over the asset to new owners, work to “pass on” commitment to biodiversity at the asset, potentially through a handover manual;
  • Report to local authorities and, where necessary, other bodies, based on the data collected.

Finally, we positively encourage the reporting of progress, through new or existing routes – highlighting positive steps such as:

  • Measures taken to collect biodiversity information;
  • Key Performance Indicators, such as % of assets with Biodiversity Management Plan, % of direct employees with biodiversity awareness training;
  • Records of sightings of endangered/rare/protected species;
  • Reporting on habitats under threat;
  • An account of how and where operations have led to the achievement of targets in Biodiversity Action Plans;
  • Case studies to highlight what has been learnt from biodiversity mitigation and enhancement.

In short, Sustainability is not just about energy, water, waste – Biodiversity often presents an opportunity to progress significant improvements.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

EVORA Insights: GRESB and Data Quality

Interview with Ragnar Martens, Director IT and Analytics

With GRESB submissions now over for another year, many of us in the industry can breathe a (small) sigh of relief.

EVORA Associate Director, Nick Hogg, took some time to talk with Ragnar Martens, Director IT and Analytics at GRESB about GRESB and data quality.

With ESG influencing ever more investment decisions, it’s more important than ever that stakeholders can continue to rely on the ESG benchmarks they engage with. Listen to Ragnar’s insights on why he thinks it’s incumbent upon participants and data partners to work together to define the standards for reporting and how this could be achieved.

You can watch the full video here:

EVORA is a recognised leader in the provision of ESG strategy and professional sustainability services to the real estate investment industry across Europe.

Contact us today to discuss your sustainability needs.

EVORA Supports Moorfield to Produce its Latest CSR Report

EVORA has supported Moorfield on development and delivery of its sustainability programme for a number of years now. This is the third year we have assisted in the production of their Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Moorfield has done well over the past 12 months achieving like-for-like energy reductions of 13%, carbon reductions of 38% and increases in recycling rates to 61%. These are achievements to be celebrated and the annual CSR report is a great tool for communicating progress.

Moorfield also recognises that the response to ESG drivers must be flexible and evolve to address emerging challenges, new technologies and changing stakeholder interests. This is demonstrated by the report which covers a diverse range of aspects including green building certification; labour management; gender equality; health, wellbeing and sustainable procurement all the way through to how the company is tackling single-use plastics. The report allows all stakeholders to better understand where risks and opportunities lie and how the company is becoming more resilient to ESG risks year-on-year.

Paul Sutcliffe, Director at EVORA, states “The Moorfield Group has made significant progress with their sustainability strategy and the outcomes stated in the latest CSR report deserve recognition. It has been a true team effort, involving the Moorfield team together with its partner property managers and Project teams. EVORA is delighted to be continually involved.”

You can read the report here.

EVORA Insights: The future of GRESB and the real estate industry

Interview with Roxana Isaiu, Director Real Estate, GRESB

With GRESB submissions now over for another year, many of us in the industry can breathe a (small) sigh of relief.

EVORA Director and co-founder, Ed Gabbitas, took some time out to speak with Roxana Isaiu, Director Real Estate, GRESB to chat about the future of GRESB and what the real estate industry should be focussing on.

Listen to Roxana’s insights on what the big issues are for the industry, why a shift towards performance is going to be essential and whether GRESB should be leading the industry or just capturing what’s already been done.

You can watch the full video here:

EVORA is a recognised leader in the provision of ESG strategy and professional sustainability services to the real estate investment industry across Europe.

Contact us today to discuss your sustainability needs.