Philippa Gill to join EVORA Global as Director

EVORA Global are delighted to announce that Philippa Gill will be joining on February 1st as Director and will be merging Verdextra into EVORA’s existing business operations.  

Verdextra are a specialised Sustainability, Health and Wellbeing and Operations Consultancy and have emerged as thought leaders in the Health and Wellbeing arena. We are very excited to be integrating Verdextra’s capabilities into our services portfolio as a key part of our commitment to broadening and upscaling our service line offerings.

We are absolutely delighted that Philippa has agreed to join us. Philippa’s deep heritage in global real estate and current thinking in emerging key topics such as Health and Wellbeing will not only add to EVORA’s depth of capability, but will really add strength to our senior leadership team and help drive our international reach. This is a truly exciting time for EVORA and we look forward to 2020 being another key milestone in our development.

EVORA’s Managing Director, Chris Bennett

Philippa brings truly world class pedigree to EVORA having previously occupied a range of senior sustainability leadership roles within Global Real Estate organisations. Philippa has a proven track record of driving real change through an extensive portfolio of Sustainability Transformation Programmes, spanning construction through to software and intelligent building management technologies.  

Philippa also brings extensive experience from within the Private Equity community and will play a key role in driving our international growth plans and supporting bringing new Value Propositions to Market.

Verdextra and EVORA’s business expertise and philosophy align so well, and I am delighted to be merging our business with theirs. The opportunity to combine my own experience with the sector leadership EVORA embodies is truly exciting and I am looking forward to harnessing our joint capabilities.

Philippa Gill, Partner at Verdextra

Seeing the Value in Real Estate Supply Chain Sustainability

Do the companies you partner with – your supply chain – understand your approach to ESG issues, and can work with you to meet your goals?

Supply chains can often be global, highly complex and of significant scale. Historically, technical quality, cost-effectiveness, speed of delivery and reliability has been the focus. Sustainability has now been added to the procurement and sourcing criteria because of operational, financial, regulatory and reputational risk drivers.


Real estate organisations are encouraged to embrace resiliency and responsibility in their supply chain management to adapt to externalities such as geopolitical conflicts, changing weather patterns and new legislation in areas such as modern slavery; and to improve their impacts on the workforce, local communities and the environment in the places where they develop, manage and invest. By improving ESG performance throughout their supply chains, organisations can enhance processes, save costs, uncover product innovation, achieve market differentiation and have a significant impact on society.

As organisations apply a sustainability lens to the design, development, management and marketing of their buildings and services, the inputs, construction methods, labour conditions, workforce health and safety practices, and environmental and community impacts of these processes will be under growing scrutiny.

The continuous improvement process expands supplier relationships significantly beyond auditing and monitoring, investing in training and incentivising top performers. Organisations share commitments with suppliers in order to achieve their sustainability goals. Procurement process preference is given to suppliers who can help them achieve these goals.

Leading organisations recognise that the sustainability attributes of their assets can offer market differentiation, resulting in increased lettability and stronger and long-term relationships with tenants.

They achieve competitive advantage in the supply chain through establishing meaningful, collaborative dialogue between themselves and their suppliers, alongside technology innovation, greater efficiency and supplier diversity. Suppliers are viewed as an extension of their business with a shared sustainability ethos integrated seamlessly throughout.

Maturity model - supply chain
Figure 1 – Maturity model supply chain

EVORA provides consultancy support for the development and implementation of an effective strategy to endorse sustainability within supply chains, including:

  • Assessment of materiality to focus on the most pressing issues
  • Development of sustainability criteria and alignment with the procurement process
  • Providing training and knowledge sharing capabilities across the organisation and with suppliers
  • Stretching existing sustainability goals beyond direct operations, to include tiers of the supply chain
  • Advice on deploying technology to increase accountability and transparency through comprehensive supplier performance metrics
  • Guiding participation in industry collaborations and initiatives to leverage buying power and influence towards supply chain sustainability
  • Disclosure of supply chain information within integrated reporting, beyond stand-alone sustainability reporting mechanisms.

Contact us to speak to a member of the team.

Five sustainability trends for the 2020s: what’s in store for real estate?

Upon entering the 2020s, which some dub ‘a decade for delivery’ to improve sustainability across the board, it is perhaps wise to consider the breakout trends that will carry forward. After all, a new year always inspires new endeavours.  It provides a clean slate to readjust and redeliver, as well as a fresh opportunity to realign and build upon past achievements.

The 2020s may have a lot in store for everyone across the real estate space; so what should we be looking out for?


Net zero heroes

This commitment has been on the lips of government officials and real estate investors alike, marking a significant promise to achieve net zero carbon across the UK by 2050.

In September 2019, 23 of the UK’s leading commercial property owners have signed a commitment launched by the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) to tackle the growing risks of climate change, pledging to decarbonise. Covering over 11,000 properties, this type of agreement is likely to inspire more companies throughout the next decade to also commit time and resource in the fight against climate change.

It is therefore expected that the dynamics behind climate strategy will shift in tow, with awareness of a pressing deadline introducing the need for a new radical mentality for rapid decarbonisation across a vast sector. The path to complete overhaul will not be simple, nor one that can be touched lightly, it will require serious engagement and in effect be one of the most major driving forces for change across the industry. Certainly, one to watch intently and something EVORA is already leading clients through the challenges and opportunities of.


New alignments and disclosure

Recent interest in broader ranging initiatives within the real estate space have been gaining traction in the past several years. These alternative policies are likely to continue to influence the direction of how companies tackle sustainability issues, standing apart from the more prominent examples such as GRESB, LEED and a host of others.

The 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is one such example, acting originally as a framework for nations to engage in improving global sustainability across areas such as environment and energy, equality, health and wellbeing, alongside peace and justice. Five years since their inception, it is the real estate sector which is taking command of the targets put in place, using them to guide investment and strategy for an all-around approach to sustainability. Aligning with the SDGs is rising in popularity, and it is likely that a more open approach could inspire newer players to also play their part, committing time and resource to key targets.

Another key shift beginning to happen in 2020 focuses on the effective disclosure of climate resilience and risk to businesses through alignment with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). TCFD is a global voluntary disclosure framework launched in 2017 to allow organisations to identify climate risks and opportunities, and ultimately to disclose the financial impact of these in their annual reports. Awareness and mitigation of these risks is necessary to avoid any sudden losses in asset value and the associated impact on the wider investor market. Businesses engaging with this voluntary scheme provide greater transparency for stakeholders, but also gain an advantage when addressing wider strategies by actively moulding the methodologies behind TCFD, as well as gaining a footing ahead of competition for improving capital value. TCFD – based reporting is to become mandatory for PRI signatories from 2020.


Renewables reinvigoration 

Off the back of net zero and related policies put in place by nations across the globe, renewables investment is a key piece of the puzzle to deliver ambitious targets by 2050.

It is no secret that renewables investment has been growing substantially over the previous decade, with total stock of the most widespread small-scale variant in the UK in terms of number and generating capacity (up to 5MW) – solar photovoltaic (PV) – growing from a total supply of just 88 MW in November 2010 to a staggering 13,305 MW in November 2019 according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

This trend is set to continue, and not just for solar, as it is speculated that across the piece the total capacity of non-hydro renewable sources is set to expand by 91% on current values, reaching 80.3 GW by 2030 [1] as shown below in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Installed capacity of non-hydro renewables through time, alongside forecast capacity out to 2030. Source: GlobalData, Power Database
Figure 1 – Installed capacity of non-hydro renewables through time, alongside forecast capacity out to 2030. Source: GlobalData, Power Database

Policy has been a major driver of this initiative in the UK; however, it should not be forgotten that globally the price of renewables has fallen drastically, reaching the lowest point to date making it ripe for investment.

Cost reductions for solar and wind power technologies are set to continue to 2020 and beyond. Current auction and power purchase agreement (PPA) data suggests that by 2020, onshore wind and solar PV will consistently offer less expensive electricity than the least-cost fossil fuel alternative worldwide, according to IRENA [2]. And for the UK as shown in Figure 2, the current expected trajectory for wind technologies is to dip below the cost of gas, closely followed by solar which is expected to reach the same level in the late 2020s if not sooner.

Figure 2 – UK costs (£ per kWh) for various technologies. Source: Carbon Brief, 2019
Figure 2 – UK costs (£ per kWh) for various technologies. Source: Carbon Brief, 2019

With costs expected to fall, the integration of renewables will become easier and the investment more worthwhile as payoff times also decrease. This is despite the removal of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme in March 2019, however commercial contracted energy still proves to pull in promising numbers for those willing to invest in generation. Furthermore, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), a partial replacement for the FiT, came into force on the 1st January 2020 setting an obligation for licensed electricity suppliers to offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for electricity exported to the National Grid.

This could provide a valuable route to market for businesses wishing to put money aside for renewables, serving to cut electricity costs due to self-generation, but also providing the opportunity to export and earn money by supplying back to the grid.

Furthermore, the benefits for businesses from Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs), specialised agreements for the supply of energy to specific sites or assets from a generator, have also grown in recent years. This differs from the standard green tariff opportunities presented by utilities, as energy is directly sourced from a known generation site which in turn spurs the delivery of greater grid investment into private energy sources as significant hurdles for generators are bypassed. Engaging in this market has proved to be a reliable means of utilising renewable energy over short term (6 month) to as long as 15-year contracts relatively inexpensively, alongside proving a positive look for companies to boot.

Who knows, perhaps this could grow into something larger? The prospect of peer-to-peer trading of energy or smart grids to efficiently serve grouped assets could also take off from greater private investment; effectively lighting the fuse for a more sustainable real estate sector, and aiding the push of ambitious policies to grow the market.


Grand designs

Changing up building management and design is also a crucial factor to consider, in order to provide more efficient, healthier and happier buildings for tenants to grow their businesses in.

One example of how legislation is progressing this scene is the recent Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES) for non-domestic commercial buildings strategy, published on the 15th October 2019 by BEIS, which we reported on last year.

Under the consultation, the government propose a new plan to raise the minimum EPC rating from ‘E’ to ‘B’ by 2030. In order to achieve this, a great deal of investment will be necessary, as an estimated 85% of non-commercial buildings will require improvements to meet these standards.

Improving new build design is a clear route to achieving this across portfolios, by integrating more passive design choices, smart technologies and more controllable systems for fundamentals like HVAC systems and lighting. These include such changes as tighter building fabrics to help reduce heat loss in the building, double glazed windows as well as greater exploitation of sunlight with Passivhaus like architecture. Not only will this reduce energy usage and as a result improve the returns from markets such as the SEG for renewables, it will also result in a more comfortable space for tenants to work in, improving wellbeing from the get-go. Furthermore, buildings can also engage in improving other factors such as the integration of biodiversity into building design with green walls and roof gardens alongside open planted plazas that not only serve as refuges for wildlife but for pleasant places for employees to enjoy for increased social value.

However, this is easier said than done, as the vast majority of buildings which will be used in the commercial space have already been built. Therefore, a great deal of effort will need to be focused on deep retrofitting to bring buildings up to scratch, allowing them to stay competitive and sustainable for years to come.


Big data for bigger change

At the heart of spurring the aforementioned changes is our understanding of the ongoing trends, causes and solutions to issues at hand; and how is that really possible without proper evidence?

As the world mobilises towards an ever more data-centric model to drive cost analyses, environmental modelling and of course the progress of sustainability, appropriate levels of data access are necessary to implement effective and lasting change. Therefore, a growing need for data coverage and reporting will likely manifest throughout the 2020s, improving the understanding of where and when energy is being consumed across a portfolio to identify, implement and track improvements.

The key to engaging here is being proactive about monitoring how businesses run and how properties are managed. An example includes the continued smart meter rollout which showed promise earlier in the 2010s, however, it has fallen short of what is required as the original deadline of 2020 is pushed back to 2024. Therefore, big data companies and real estate investors may begin to invest more heavily in their own solutions to provide better coverage of how assets perform. Furthermore, by partnering more closely this could prove to be more productive than just face value cost reductions.

By engaging with tenants directly to shape their ‘energy behaviour’ from a top-down policy and technologically driven view, visible and accessible evidence of energy usage can itself inspire change from the bottom up, with tenants altering how they perceive energy usage and the impacts of their day to day. Attacking from both ends in this way may prove an effective weapon.

Big data also stretches to the social issues that real estate faces on an ongoing basis, after all, people drive business. More widespread and granular coverage of social value, health and well being among other strategies could help change the perception of how usually qualitative analyses is treated, providing quantitative means to expand the efficiency of implementing changes into businesses.

EVORA will, of course, examine the growth of these trends (as well as many more) throughout the year, as we expect a great deal of exciting activity is upcoming. So, watch this space!


Data Sources:

[1]  https://www.power-technology.com/comment/uk-renewable-outlook/

[2] https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2019/May/IRENA_Renewable-Power-Generations-Costs-in-2018.pdf

Act on Climate Change

For those of us old enough to remember the amazing and thought provoking Baz Luhrmann song of the late 1990’s ‘Everybody’s free to wear Sunscreen’ you will be amazed to know that it is twenty years since this early viral internet phenonium grabbed our attention.  

You will also no doubt recall those thought provoking and immortal words of the writer Mary Schmich, the original author of the words that were wrongly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut.  For those of you too young to remember the song I recommend you hunt it down and listen.

It was whilst listening to a recent BBC World Service programme of the history of the song it occurred to me, as somebody who has spent the past 30 plus years in the sustainability world, what advice would I most like to pass on to the younger generation about the climate change challenge and living sustainably.  So in honour of Mary, Baz and the amazing voice Lee Perry, here goes my reinterpretation of their lessons in life….


Ladies and gentlemen, Readers of EVORA Global.

Act on Climate Change

If I could offer you only one tip for the future,

Acting on climate change would be it.

The long term impacts of climate change have been shown by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

I will offer my advice on how to address this challenge now.

Take seriously the power and passion of youth.

Dismiss this at your peril.

You may not understand the power and passion of youth until you have children and grandchildren of your own.

But trust me, in 20 years from now you’ll back at this time in a way you can’t grasp now and wonder why you didn’t act when there were still possibilities to change our trajectory and how many opportunities acting now could open up before you.

The future is not as hopeless or as difficult as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the science, but know that worrying is not effective or going to change the outcome.

The real challenges in modern life are our relentless consumptive behaviour in pursuit of false happiness but know that it’s not about having what you want but wanting what you have; the simple things in life such as spending time with family and friends is free.

Do something every day that challenges the perceived wisdom.

Publish your commitment to act on climate change.

Don’t be reckless with our resources and don’t be reckless with other counties resources.

Don’t accept the suggestion the world has endless capacity.

Recycle.

Don’t waste; do more with less.  The world has evolved over billions of years and everything in the universe is recycled.  Time is endless and our future uncertain but our place in history is not guaranteed.

Be respectful.

Remember your successes and learn from any mistakes but don’t let them restrict you; the journey in tackling climate change is challenging and we are all in it together.

Display any awards for best practice; it will keep you motivated. Don’t throw away your utility bills; it’s valuable data that can help you improve management of your assets.

Innovate.

Don’t feel guilty; you don’t know how yet. Embrace the possibilities and engage with technology. Some of the best businesses I’ve known didn’t know how to innovate at the start of their sustainability journey; some of them have been able to secure Government grant funding to help them.

Embrace the power of the Sun.

Preserve the rainforest, biodiversity and ecosystem services you’ll miss then when they are gone.

Maybe you’ll strive to solve the challenge on your own.

Maybe you’ll partner with others to work together.

Maybe you’ll offset your carbon.

Maybe you’ll just go veggie and reduce meat consumption.

Whatever you do don’t congratulate yourself too much or be defeatist; the future of humankind is in our hands today. So is the rest of life on Earth.

Get plenty of exercise; walk cycle run; don’t over eat or poison your body with unhealthy substances, it’s the only one you’ll own.

Pause…..take time to look around you and marvel at the wonders of life.

Read and keep abreast of climate science; it’s moving fast.

BEWARE of the fashion industry; it contributes more to global warming than aviation and shipping combined.

Celebrate and respect your culture and heritage; we can learn lots about good lives from our ancestors that can guide our future.

Work together with your peer group; they understand your challenges and together you can find mutual respect and encouragement in the future.

Spend time with family and friends; enjoy preparing and eating local seasonal food together; avoid cheap fast foods.

Work to bridge the gaps in geography; although the challenges can differ slightly between countries the essential issues are the same. Think global, act local.

Only travel sustainably.

Accept certain inalienable truths; carbon taxes will come.

Politicians will eventually legislate.

You too will get older, and when you do you’ll fantasize that taxes were reasonable, politicians were noble, and will recall it was our children that made us aware of the threats of climate change to life on earth.

Respect Mother Nature.

Maybe you need financial support, maybe you can reinvest some profits, but be under no illusion, time is running out.

Don’t rush ahead without considering proper science based targets or by the time we hit 2050, you’ll realise you’ve been chasing the wrong goals.

Be careful with those who sell existing stuff carefully repackaged with a green claim. Get proof of their credentials with an appropriate assurance or verification certificate. Engage a good independent consultant to help you.

But trust me on the seriousness of climate change.


by Matthew Brundle, Associate Director