EVORA’s Associate Director, Oli Pye, selected to join WELL Portfolio Advisory

Oli Pye, Associate Director has been invited by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) to be part of the 2018-2019 WELL Portfolio advisory.

Oli joins a select group of leading industry professionals who will guide the continuous evolution of the WELL Portfolio Pathway pilot, a new streamlined pathway for WELL Certification for multiple new or existing buildings and tenant spaces in a single portfolio.

Being released as part of the WELL v2 pilot, the latest iteration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), WELL Portfolio is part of a suite of enhancements to WELL that addresses growing demand across the building industry for a program that helps owners, developers and tenants streamline and scale health and wellness upgrades to their real estate assets.

“Since we launched WELL, we’ve seen an explosion of interest from global companies to bring the same health and wellness benefits across their portfolios,” said IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “The commitment of our early adopters who are now sharing their knowledge in this advisory role is what will make this process realizable for more companies and positively impact more people in every corner of the globe.”

The WELL Portfolio advisory includes a collection of professionals, practitioners and experts across a range of industries and sectors who will help shape and advance the implementation of the WELL Portfolio program.

Advisors will work with IWBI throughout the year to help ensure that WELL Portfolio continues to align with the latest industry research, meets user needs and raises the bar for healthy, high-performing buildings around the world.

Oli said, “I’m delighted to have been invited onto the panel with my fellow WELL Portfolio Advisors and I’m looking forward to supporting the programme.”

You can read more here.

Do sustainability professionals ever ‘switch off?’

It’s official: despite my best efforts, I cannot switch off from work.

It has slowly been creeping into my life away from the office without me even realising it. Don’t get me wrong, as a sustainability professional I am more than happy to recycle at home, switch off lights, nag my friends into action, and do various other things as part of ‘my bit’ for the environment. But lately it has been entering other areas of my life unannounced. I thought it would be interesting to share my experiences in the hope I’m not the only one!


Example 1 – Watching TV. I had a bit of a binge watch of the series ‘Mad Men’ on Netflix recently (for anyone who watched it first time round you will realise I am about 10 years late to this programme!). It has been described by some TV experts as the most historically accurate portrayal of the era out of any show which has made it to the small screen. The sexism and racism is, at times, jaw dropping, the costumes are spot on and everyone smoking and drinking heavily throughout the day is a well-established norm.

And yet, for all the things they got right (I am having to base this on other peoples’ opinions as I was born in the 80s!), there is one glaring error which ruins the show…..the lighting. The camera is regularly angled upwards to show row upon row of perfectly illuminated square LED panels – a major oversight for a show set in the 1960s/1970s!

Example 2 – The shopping experience. Long do I yearn for the days when I would simply walk into shops to buy things. Now however, my first thought is always the temperature. 98% of the time, shops do not take into account the fact that customers will be wearing clothes suitable for the external weather conditions. For example, if it’s 0ºC outside, they will be wrapped up appropriately, and the last thing they’ll want is to walk into a shop which is reminiscent of a sauna and be baked like an arctic explorer in the Amazon. Cue me walking into a shop and swiftly leaving after five seconds (which happens regularly!).

Example 3 – Going for dinner or drinks. Currently, the trend seems to be for bars and restaurants to be fitted out in a ‘vintage’ style, including filament style lightbulbs. My first thought when I walk into these places is whether they are actually old high wattage filament bulbs or a sneaky LED alternative (which can be very realistic). Cue my attempts to try and touch the lights to see how much heat is being given off, prompting some very shifty looks from the bar staff.

So, it seems that I am destined to never ‘switch off’ from the job. However, I take solace in the fact that the above scenarios are not life threatening and do not keep me awake at night (like some jobs must). Instead it has formed an integral, albeit mildly annoying, part of my sub-conscious that will likely never fade.

GRESB Results 2018: EVORA supports Hines to achieve Sector Leader status and top global ranking in Health, Wellbeing and Resilience

PRESS RELEASE – 12 September 2018
Download the full press release here.

Hines Pan-European Core Fund Recognized as Sector Leader by GRESB for Sustainability Performance

We are delighted to congratulate our client, Hines Pan-European Core Fund (HECF), for their absolutely stellar GRESB 2018 results:

  • GRESB Global Sector Leader
  • GRESB Europe Sector Leader
  • Ranked 1st Globally in the supplementary Health & Wellbeing module.
  • Ranked 1st Globally in the supplementary Resilience module.

It’s testament to their historic investment in and ongoing commitment to sustainability/ESG, plus their ability to respond quickly to emerging trends and topics such as health, wellbeing and resilience.

We have thoroughly enjoyed providing HECF with sustainability consultancy (including GRESB submission support) during the past two years and look forward to continuing our collaboration during the year(s) ahead.

Ed Gabbitas, Director, EVORA said: The EVORA and HECF teams have worked incredibly hard over the past year to maintain Sector Leader status. It is great to see our high performing ESG strategy contribute to an equally high performing overall fund strategy, which has seen occupancy at 99.4% (as at Q2 2018), and doubling of assets under management (to €1.2bn GAV) since we first started working with Hines.

You can read the full Hines press release here.


GRESB Premier PartnerWe are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Sustainable cities: innovative “hubs” and battlefields against negative change

Only ten years ago, knowing about sustainability meant that you might have accidentally read a piece of avant-garde research, speculating about harmful changes in our climate. In the blink of an eye, sustainability has gained wider momentum, and today has established itself as a global goal for our future and that of our planet.

However, years have passed but we still have a long way to go: threats to our environment and humankind haven’t disappeared as quickly as we’d hoped, and industrial production has largely been favouring short-term interests over environmentally-sound long-term benefits. Hence, the war against negative environmental impact is still on. What better battlefield than cities today?


Cities are expected to be home to over 70% of the world’s population by 2050[1]. In Europe, urban areas account for 75% of the population already. It is anticipated that US350 trillion are to be spent on urban infrastructure over the next 30 years[2]. How can we use those monetary resources effectively and sustainably?

Real Estate is a sector with one of the most comprehensive sets of tools and practical standards aiming to improve sustainability and resilience in cities. And thankfully so, as buildings account for almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissions globally, and in bigger cities up to 80%[3]. Ensuring that buildings are sustainable means finding ways to use resources efficiently, without compromising their overall purpose. Buildings should be designed with the best solutions and ideas at stake and should be a grounding element of future-proofed cities.

Great theory, great lesson, but what has been done so far?


Practical learning n 1: Business for sustainability, or sustainability for business?

A lot of initiatives and developments have taken place in the real estate sector to advance sustainability holistically. More and more, environmental standards and certifications such as BREEAM, LEED and many more have set out criteria to measure buildings’ sustainability and determine which actions can contribute to better results. Along this line, the GRESB sustainability survey has become a turning point for real estate investors’ business-wide future decisions. The speculative market environment can therefore easily be influenced by what investors believe to be future risks. This means that sustainable cities and structures are at the core of the international agenda, and they have the power to steadily shape what is next.

Practical learning n 2: All that glitters today is not gold tomorrow

Industries such as Real Estate, which deal with infrastructures that need sustainable (re)development, have started rewriting their founding lessons, with an eye for long-lasting value, rather than short-term benefit. Why is business, often the enemy to our environment, suddenly turning towards more sustainable solutions?

Industries such as Real Estate, which deal with infrastructures that need sustainable (re)development, have started rewriting their founding lessons, with an eye for long-lasting value, rather than short-term benefit.

Sustainable cities mean resilience, hence resistance to future risks and challenges. This means better stability and reward for the years to come as well as a greater understanding of how to peacefully live within our environment, rather than harming it or feeling threatened by it.  More in cities than anywhere else, where consumption patterns are the direct cause of environmental degradation, there is a need for enduring value, which can only go hand in hand with an increasing respect and understanding of how to treat our urban surroundings. What glitters today is not going to be the gold of tomorrow, if it cannot last until tomorrow!

Practical learning n 3: The happier, the better

Cities are a hub of production, which means innovation, creativity, financial reward, increasing services and ambitious professional, social and cultural opportunities. As a result, however, cities can also be stressful environments, filled with people, vehicles, infrastructure, but with little space and resources to support them. This does not only affect the resilience of businesses and infrastructures, but also of the people contributing to them, who increasingly suffer from psychological distress, anxiety and hence lower productivity. Sustainable cities and their infrastructures can only achieve enduring value if they become healthier environments for their people.

The Real Estate sector has recently made advancements in establishing health and wellbeing as a part of the sustainability agenda. Not only do sustainable buildings mean good management of resources, which inevitably meet future human needs, but research has shown that proximity to more natural elements within our urban spaces is fundamental to advancing our well-being, and as a result our productivity[4][5]. Standards such as the WELL, RESET and Fitwel have taken health and wellbeing as their main focus to aspire to resilient and thriving communities within urban spaces. Similarly, GRESB recently introduced a health and well-being module in their annual survey and it will likely gain wider coverage in future years. It seems that if you feel great within your environment, you will be happier, healthier and will reach your full potential. Isn’t this what we are all looking for?

If you agree, then you have reason to believe that because our current cities are the major obstacle to improving sustainability and finding enduring value, they are also the inherent solution.

This blog post was originally written for and published on GRESB Insights.


[1] Neij, L., Bulkeley, H. & McCormick, K. (2015) Cities and climate change: The great decarbonisation challenge, Climate in Focus, 1-4.

[2] WWF (2012) Reinventing the City: Three Prerequisites for Greening Urban Infrastructures, p. 6

[3] WF (2012) Urban Solutions for a Living Planet. P.10

[4] WF (2012) Urban Solutions for a Living Planet. P.9

[5] Ryan, C., Gaziulusoy, I., McCormick, K & Trudgeon, M. (to be published) Virtual City Experimentation: A Critical Role for Design Visioning. In: Evans, J., Karvonen A. & Raven, R (eds) The Experimental City. London: Routledge.

Monitoring and visualising indoor air quality with Foobot

With the rise of the health and wellbeing agenda, monitoring and visualising the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of the workplace is emerging as a key objective for many.

Some smart buildings already have expensive state of the art IEQ monitoring in place. But what if you don’t find yourself in this situation and need to set up a system from scratch? You could go out and procure said ‘state of the art’ system at significant expense. However, if you are budget-constrained, you may find yourself looking toward the more cost efficient, ‘consumer-grade’ end of the IEQ monitoring spectrum…


Measuring IAQ

Now, we know there are considerable limitations with certain consumer-grade IEQ monitoring devices – including their level of calibration and, ultimately, accuracy. However, for this blog we would like to set this issue aside and focus on the practicalities of installing and monitoring indoor air quality through a popular consumer-grade monitoring device: Foobot.

With an interest in air quality, one of our consultants found Foobot. Foobot is a low-cost air quality monitoring tool which can interface with internet-based apps to log air quality and also help you to do something about it.

Setup

Setting up Foobot is easy. Once you’ve unboxed and plugged the monitor in, you need to download the Foobot app to an Android or iPhone smart phone.  After registering on the app, it will then allow you to connect to the monitor. Once connected, you can then monitor Foobot readings wherever you are.  For easy comprehension, Foobot gives you a headline air quality score, which is made up of several readings including carbon dioxide, particulates, and humidity.

The main Foobot phone screen, showing an air quality score (50+ is poor)


Data and API

As well as the app, Foobot supplies an API, which can be used to extract data from your monitor for your own use. To get the data you basically fire various URLs to the API, which include an API key supplied by Foobot, that will return data. This is quite advanced stuff for those who want to build their own mini applications. An easier way to do this would be to use something called IFTTT.

Connect Foobot up to other apps using IFTTT

A useful website www.ifttt.com (If this then that) has lots of applets; readymade code snippets that are based on a trigger (this) and an action (that). Handily there’s a few setup already for Foobot. For our Foobot (named Evorabot) we have used two – one to log readings to a google spreadsheet and the other to message a reading when you physically tap the monitor twice.

The Foobot applets listed on the IFTTT website.

To use IFTTT, first you need to register as a new user on the site. This can be done using a Facebook or Google login or a login specifically for IFTTT. Once registered you can then set up applets.

To setup an applet is simple.

  1. You choose the applet you want to use (Foobot/Twitter/Instagram).
  2. You then click on the trigger part of the applet (The ‘this’).
  3. This will prompt you to connect a Foobot device.
  4. To connect your Foobot to the IFTTT site, you just need to enter the login you created when you registered your Foobot using the mobile app.
  5. Once it is registered you can use any of the Foobot triggers for the ‘this’ part of the applet.
  6. For the ‘that’ part, we first used a connection to a Google drive account to log each reading made by our Foobot to a google sheet. This graph is a google sheets graph, plotting CO2 output in the Evora office.

An example Co2 graph of the Evora office

Using Slack

We now use an IFTTT applet which logs a reading to one of our Slack channels (the app we use for internal communications with the team). The Foobot reading is triggered by someone tapping/knocking on the device which then posts a message in the appropriate conversation.

The knock knock Foobot app in action


Hacks to the future

The great thing about Foobot is that its already collaborating with other technologies to create complete solutions. This includes linking to Nest to enable more ventilation if air quality gets too bad. These hacks enable both offices and homes to create Smart ventilation, keeping poor air quality in check.

We may well explore this solution for our office. For now, when the air quality gets bad, we open some windows!

GRESB Resilience Module: will you survive and thrive in the face of systems disruption?

When you hear the word resilience you might think of an activist like Martin Luther King, an explorer such as Ranulph Fiennes, or an athlete akin to Mo Farah.

In all walks of life it is an admirable and desirable quality, but the meaning it carries in the field of commercial property is perhaps not as well defined or understood as it needs to be given the increasing role it is expected to play in securing long-term success.


GRESB is recognising the importance of resilience in real estate portfolios by introducing a brand new module for the 2018 GRESB survey. Much like the Health & Wellbeing module that came before it, the GRESB Resilience module will standalone and evolve over the next 3 years with the intention of subsequently integrating it into the main GRESB survey.

But what is it that makes real estate resilient?

What is it that makes companies and funds resilient?

And what is it that will make you GRESB resilient?


What is resilience?

The exact definition of resilience in a sustainability context is not yet fully agreed, however the IPCC defines it as:

“The ability of a system and its component parts to anticipate, absorb, accommodate, or recover from the effects of a hazardous event in a timely and efficient manner, including through ensuring the preservation, restoration, or improvement of its essential basic structures and functions”.

Meanwhile, GRESB defines it as:

“The capacity of companies and funds to survive and thrive in the face of social and environmental shocks and stressors”.

In short, how well equipped is your organisation to deal with big events that disrupt systems (floods, fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks etc.), and the stressors that make you more susceptible to harm when events do occur (poverty, environmental degradation, aging infrastructure etc.)?


The GRESB resilience module

The GRESB Resilience module has been kept fairly simple this year, asking basic-level questions on the involvement of management and stakeholders in resilience-related decisions, on asset and business operational risk reporting, on strategies for the management of risk, and, interestingly, to “describe your response to three illustrative, disruptive, extreme, or catastrophic events or near misses during the reporting period”. I am intrigued to see what kind of responses come in for this last one.

I am confident that the Resilience module will follow the projected path of the Health & Wellbeing and ultimately become a part of the main survey. Firstly, because the probability of these system shocks is indisputably growing for many issues (e.g. climate change, terrorism, I.T. security) and secondly, because of the potentially huge environmental, social, and financial consequences that could result from failing to invest in resilience.

Exactly how the module will look in a few years’ time is hard to say, with GRESB using this year to gauge the current state of play in the industry. I doubt it will progress to any kind of individual asset-level evaluation any time soon given the multitude of uncertainties in resilience modelling and the unique situation every asset is in with regards to external shocks and stresses. Instead, I expect it will likely remain procedural, focussing on how organisations go about identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks in their portfolio, and how they are communicating these risks to different parties. However, we wait with intrigue to see how this new reporting element develops.


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Contact us about GRESB support.

Transparency and the business case for ESG in Real Estate

Last month we ran a thought leadership event on ‘Real Estate Sustainability: Planning for 2018 & Beyond’ kindly hosted by our client Schroders.

Two key themes were raised by the speakers and the panellists, which are certainly not mutually exclusive. The first was setting out the business case for ESG in Real Estate and the second was the issue of transparency.


Evolution of GRESB for 2018

Sander Paul van Tongeren, Managing Director of GRESB kicked off with 2018 updates for GRESB. Increased transparency is being introduced through ‘Validation Plus’ applied to a sample of indicators for all participants (as opposed to a sample of participants). Ensuring quality of submissions through greater transparency is essential for the ongoing credibility of the survey.

Sander Paul made it clear that GRESB is increasingly focussing on the asset level.  The GRESB Assessment at the fund level will be strengthened by adding asset level data.

In addition, Sander Paul made it clear that GRESB is increasingly focussing on the asset level.  The GRESB Assessment at the fund level will be strengthened by adding asset level data. This will necessitate the collection of asset level data where the transparency of that data has been evaluated, i.e. has it come from a trusted source, and its quality identified through adequate validation. This is where sophisticated software systems such as SIERA will become fundamental in receiving asset & meter level data with automated validation functionality to ensure the completeness and quality of the data, which will support high scores in GRESB.


Transparency through public disclosure

Ed Gabbitas of EVORA presented the findings of a recent research paper identifying that strong sustainability practices combined with public disclosure are associated with superior investment returns. The award-winning research found that “sustainable” Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) benefited from higher rental income and lower interest expenses, resulting in increased cash distribution to shareholders. A lower risk profile was also identified attracting higher premiums to Net Asset Value (NAV). Transparency through public disclosure was found to be a key facilitator of driving improvement.

Overall, a 3% fund return uplift was observed between the lowest and highest GRESB scoring funds.

Ed went on to highlight research to evaluate if strong GRESB performance correlates to enhanced fund returns for non-listed funds. Overall, a 3% fund return uplift was observed between the lowest and highest GRESB scoring funds. These finding are clearly helpful enabling the capital markets to use GRESB as a broad indicator of fund quality in their evaluation.


ESG ratings lead to better financial performance

Murray Birt, Senior ESG Strategist at Deutsche Bank advised there had been more than 2000 academic studies since 1970, seeking to identify if there is a link between ESG and financial performance – clearly not a new endeavour! The findings demonstrated high ESG ratings correlated to better financial performance across multiple asset classes and regions.

Neither this, or the immediate impact of global physical climate change, which Murray also highlighted, have had a major impact on the uptake by the real estate industry, to accelerate energy efficiency in buildings. The answer – improved and increased European wide policy requiring corporate disclosure and greater transparency to promote the setting and delivery of long term objectives to address climate risk.


Social Value and Impact Investing

Finally, Debbie Hobbs, Head of Sustainability at L&G Real Assets presented on the importance of Social Value and Impact Investing, ensuring investments generate a beneficial social impact as well as a financial return. Debbie presented research highlighting that nine out of ten millennials believe the success of a business should be measured by more than just financial performance and 60% of millennials want to join companies that have a societal purpose. Fundamentally transparency of impacts and social engagement is becoming a necessity, both in the way funds invest and corporates run their businesses.

60% of millennials want to join companies that have a societal purpose.

Anecdotally, we have recently been recruiting for a number of positions at EVORA, and remarkably, so far, every candidate interviewed has highlighted EVORA Giving, which focusses on our social side of sustainability, as a key element that has attracted them to apply to EVORA.


Transparency and the business case for ESG

So, going back to our two key themes. Firstly, transparency is clearly the new buzz word and for many good reasons it should help bring quality, clarity and progression of the ESG agenda.

A decade ago I saw sustainability almost as a leap of faith for many - now I see it as a leap of common sense. Click To Tweet

And what about the link between ESG and fund performance? – well research, which has been ongoing since the 1970s, has shown that there is direct correlation. Will that put the debate to bed? I doubt it. But as I said in my closing remarks at the event, a decade ago I saw sustainability almost as a leap of faith for many – now I see it as a leap of common sense. So let’s stop putting our energies into trying to prove its worth and instead make our buildings and the world we live in more sustainable.


If you have any questions about the event or would like to speak to us about how we can support you with your GRESB submission for 2018, please get in touch with the team.

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Future of Work at the 40 Percent Symposium

Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine deep learning, Internet of Things, big data analytics to name but are a few are the buzz words we now hear regularly. Will these define the Future of Work or is there a greater dynamic?

The Future of Work

Recent research by Oxford university estimates that a staggering 35% of jobs could be replaced by automation in the next two decades. The growing influence of the Generation Y/millennials who are likely to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025, is already having an impact on working practices and will define the requirements of the buildings they occupy.

35% of jobs could be replaced by automation in the next two decadesClick To Tweet

If the last 10 years have been about cost reduction, hot desking and resource utilisation, now it is about flexible space that enables creativity, collaboration, learning and socialising. In short, the combination of rapidly advancing technology with a changing work culture will see a move away from honest work for honest pay to meaningful work in a meaningful environment.

This cannot happen without a transformation in the way buildings are designed and used.


Our Director, Paul Sutcliffe will provide a whirlwind tour opening our minds to why the Future of Work is something we must all embrace at the 40 Percent Symposium on 12th April in Berlin. Find out more here.

EVORA achieves Planet Mark Certification

We are proud to announce that EVORA has achieved the Planet Mark Certification for the 4th year running!

The Planet Mark is an internationally recognised certification based on sustainability standards. It represents an organisation’s sustainability programme to actively reduce environmental and social harm.

EVORA is committed to continuous improvement in sustainabilityClick To Tweet

In order to achieve the Planet Mark certification, EVORA had to submit data and evidence on a number of its business activities, such as its utilities (energy and water), waste (recyclable and landfill) and business travel. The Planet Mark then takes that data and puts it through ‘rigorous carbon footprint measurement and reporting’ to ensure we are acting responsibly and limiting our environmental impact.

Total carbon footprint per employee - decreased by 17.3%Click To Tweet

Highlights from the report:

  • Total carbon footprint – decreased by 8.6%
  • Total carbon footprint per employee – decreased by 17.3%

EVORA is committed to continuous improvement in sustainability and aims to reduce our carbon footprint even further next year!

EVORA Giving to Sponsor Promise Dreams Throughout 2018

Following the publication of our EVORA Giving blog post in December, I am pleased to announce that our chosen charity to support through initiative number 4 is Promise Dreams.

EVORA Giving Promise Dreams partner logo


Promise Dreams is a national charity that aims to make a real difference to children who are seriously or terminally ill. Every child has a dream and whatever it may be, Promise Dreams aim to make it come true – whether it be to go on the holiday of a lifetime, spend time with their siblings following extended hospital stays, the chance to meet their celebrity hero, a specially adapted trike to enable them to join in on family bike rides, or essential equipment and resources for their home. In fact, anything that will make life happier and easier for the family in need.

Promise Dreams Image one

Promise Dreams accepts applications for children from all over the UK from birth up to the age of eighteen. Their workforce is a small team of highly trained staff and several volunteers with a positive attitude, lots of energy and a little bit of imagination.  They receive no government funding so rely on supporters to help raise much-needed funds through bag packs, bucket collections, gala dinners, sponsored walks, corporate sponsorship and much more!

Throughout the year, EVORA will be a dedicated supporter to Promise Dreams by holding many fundraising events.Click To Tweet

Throughout the year, EVORA will be a dedicated supporter to Promise Dreams by holding many fundraising events. We are very excited about our partnership and believe every child deserves happiness and wonderful memories.

Promise Dreams Image two

I would like to encourage you to visit the Promise Dreams website where you can find lots of information on dreams they have made come true.

We will keep you updated on all our activities in the coming weeks. Any support you can provide to help us make dreams come true is invaluable.

We very much look forward to working with Promise Dreams and making dreams come true for seriously or terminally sick children.


Learn more about EVORA Giving.