GRESB 2020 Scoring – Headline Changes

Along with the announcement that the deadline for GRESB submissions this year has been shifted back until the 1st August, GRESB have also released the scoring methodology for this year’s submission. The headline changes are outlined below:

Total Score

The scoring has reduced from 130 credits available down to 100, meaning that each credit is worth more in 2020 relative to 2019. The reduction to 100 credits overall makes it easier to evaluate and review impacts of certain questions. It is important to understand that although a lot of questions have seen a reduction in number of points available, the percentage contribution to the overall survey has in most instances remained the same. Key changes to scoring contribution from individual questions are summarised below.

Data Assurance

Points awarded for the assurance of energy, GHG, water and waste data has increased from 2% in 2019 up to 6% for the 2020 submission. This is a big shift in emphasis on the quality of utility data reported, and presumably in support of GRESB and the wider industry’s increasing focus on ‘investment grade’ ESG data.

Disclosure

The relative importance of disclosure,  for example via an entity level sustainability report,  has increased 22% compared to 2019.

Energy & GHG data

Points have increased regarding energy and associated greenhouse gas emission data from 15% up to 21%. This means successful efforts to collect energy data, preferably sourced via renewable contracts, across the whole portfolio will return a higher reward. It’s important to note that the amount assigned to energy has actually decreased but GHG has increased by a greater amount.

Water & Waste data

The contribution of water and waste was previously 3% and 2%, respectively. These have increased to 7% & 4%. This mirrors the importance being placed on data coverage and compliments the increase in Energy and GHG points.

Environmental/social risk assessments

This question has decreased from contributing 3% to 1% in 2020 which is likely the result of high marks being achieved in previous years and therefore the relevance of this question to ESG benchmarking reducing.

If you would like to understand more regarding the scoring methodology and key implications for your upcoming submissions, please get in touch.


EVORA are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support after supporting 73 funds to submit to GRESB in 2019, including 25 funds located outside the UK. View our official Global 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 to see how we can help you.

EVORA continues to partner with you through COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting all of us and has understandably disrupted the operations of all markets and businesses globally.  We are clearly all very concerned for our families, friends and colleagues in what are very difficult times and we want to extend our sincerest and heartfelt wishes to everyone.

Our commitment to our colleagues and customers remains our utmost priority.  We are continuing to work closely with all our customers on their sustainability programmes and are doing everything we can to communicate clearly and swiftly with everyone.  Our business remains strong with wonderfully committed teams and a robust capital base that enables us to continue to operate as a true long term partner, remaining extremely focused on delivering sustainability outcomes to our clients that help our people and our planet.

Business Continuity in a time of disruption

We have robust contingency plans in place to protect the health and safety of our people and our clients to allow us to continue operating with as little disruption as is practical in these very exceptional circumstances.  EVORA invoked full remote working conditions from the 16th of March and our core knowledge of Health and Wellbeing practices has allowed us to fully transition to flexible and remote working with the minimum of disruption.  Has it been plain sailing?  No, of course not and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise, but we continue to be delighted and indeed humbled by the steadfast commitment of all our teams and how they are supporting our clients with passion, drive and good humour.

Since our inception we have always encouraged flexible working practices and we continue to invest in our infrastructure in support of this.  We absolutely believe that our flexible and highly connected culture will continue to allow us to operate with a minimum of impact to our commitments to you and the programmes we are supporting.

We have temporarily closed all our offices and stopped all business travel and are continuing to make alternative arrangements through phone and video conferencing to enable us to stay connected with everyone and we continue to remain available through our normal phone and email channels and will keep our social media feeds regularly updated.

We look forward to continuing to partner with you as we all navigate our way through COVID-19.  Please do take care, stay safe and our thoughts are with you all.  

EVORA achieves Planet Mark certification

We are very proud to announce that EVORA has achieved Planet Mark certification for the 6th year running.

The Planet Mark is an internationally recognised certification based on sustainability standards and its mission is to help us all contribute to a thriving planet as a collective force. The certification represents an organisation’s commitment to sustainability programmes to actively reduce environmental and social harm. 

In a key step forward, this year we have measured our social value contribution. Social value is the net social and environmental benefit generated to society by an organisation, expressed in ‘£’.

The national TOMS (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) framework, developed by Social Value Portal and the National Social Value Taskforce was used to measure the social value generated by EVORA.

In 2019, EVORA generated £454,644 in social value. This includes over £400,000 through actions relating to the people in our organisation and supply chain, as well as money and time donated to charitable organisations, and reducing our carbon footprint through commutes.

In order to measure our social value, EVORA had to submit data and evidence on a number of indicators.  These were:

  • Our People
  • Community and Volunteering
  • Donations
  • Procurement
  • Environmental Impacts

We look forward to completing the assessment again next year and we continue to drive our commitment to generate further social value opportunities.

‘’I’m delighted to see EVORA taking steps to report their social value offering. This submission has helped us identify where the organisation generates the most social value, and highlighted opportunities to create a greater benefit to society.’’

Emily Day, Sustainability Consultant

Helpful Tips on Staying Well while Working from Home

Humans are social beings and being isolated for an extended period of time can affect mental health and wellbeing.  Working from home is often comfortable and helpful when it is on an ad hoc basis.  In the current, unprecedented times however, working from home could become unexpectedly stressful.  This short page is aimed at providing some physical and mental health tips to keep us all well, healthy and happy during this period.


Mental and Physical Health are equally important: it is often easy to forget the link between mental and physical health, especially in the technology-driven 21st Century. 

Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Try to keep a separate place for your work which you can walk away from.  It is important to keep a mental and physical separation between work and home, wherever possible.  If this is not practical, try working in different spaces to give yourself variety.
  • Set a daily routine, including getting up and dressed as you would normally.  For those with children at home now too, establish a routine for the whole family that allows time together and time doing your own things. Respect each other’s boundaries, both physical and mental, and keep communication lines open. 
  • Take regular breaks away from work. Have lunch or breaks away from your screen and switch all the reminders and alarms off so that your brain can relax.
  • Specify a ‘working day’ and ‘leave the office’, closing your work down.
  • Be aware of your mental health.  How is your mood?  Are you sleeping well?  It can often help to look at yourself as you might a friend, and see how you are doing. 
  • Replace your usual in-person activities with video calls and regular updates.  Humans are social animal for the most part and thrive on engagement with others; we will all need this as we adjust.
  • Control your exposure to the media and information, perhaps limiting to one specific time of the day.  Being surrounded by constant updates and repeated alarming news can be stressful and raise your own levels of worry and concern.
  • Be generous to yourself, and others.  This is not normal and will not last.  Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your close friends and family.

Physical Considerations

  • Make sure you have a comfortable place to work where you can see properly
  • Ensure you have good exposure to natural daylight
  • Your chair should be the right height to allow you to work comfortably and the desk should allow you to sit with your legs underneath it
  • Try not to work on the sofa or similar “soft” areas for extended periods and look after your back and posture
  • Drink plenty of water!  It can be helpful to use the same bottle each day with a set amount of water.  Current advice is that adults should on average drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
  • Movement during the day is also important.  Try to stretch every 15 or so minutes, and move around regularly. 
  • Take regular breaks, ideally by leaving the house (within the government guidelines).  A change of scene and some fresh air are critical to maintaining health & wellbeing.
  • Keep exercising!  There are ways to exercise outside which will still maintain isolation, and there are plenty of videos available with ways to exercise inside at home.  Keeping your mind and body healthy in tandem will ensure that you are the most resilient you can be during this period.  
  • Laugh!!  There is a great body of evidence which shows the positive benefits of laughter.  Keep calling each other and have a good time together, add in some conscious comedy viewing.
  • Stay in touch with your work teams too; strong bonds are formed between teams and these will be helpful and supportive as we all stay at home. Try to use video communications as much as possible, not just audio.

Getting fresh air safely

  • Open the windows, it is important to let fresh air into your home.  Regularly changing the air in your home will reduce carbon dioxide and chemicals, as well as provide a link to the outside world, all of which keep us alert and more able to concentrate.
  • Go for a walk or spend time outside, within the current government rules (see link below).

For more advice and tips, here are some external web links:

Please note – these Tips should be used in the spirit in which they were shared: best practice sourced form multiple agencies and informed people.  They do not replace official advice or government updates and should not be considered as such.

Thank you to our very own Thomas Hutton for the cartoon!

Getting ready for GRESB season – Reporting tips and tricks

GRESB is imminently approaching! Which for a lot of us in the ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) industry, it means getting ready to report all the relevant activities that have been undertaken by funds over the course of the past year. In order to smoothen your reporting process and evidence collection, I have looked to outline some tips and tricks which will hopefully help you successfully deliver this year’s submission.

Establishing what’s new

GRESB, as you would suspect, is not a static survey, with improvements and updates added each year which seek to adapt to and follow the rapidly changing ESG market. As such, the first tip I can give you is to start with the basics and review what has changed. Once you have identified high-level changes both in evidence requirements and topics covered, you can then begin to look at establishing the evidence available in order to answer each of the questions. If you are unable to sufficiently support your answer with available evidence on current practices or perhaps are not achieving the marks you would expect, then you can begin to plan ahead for next year. Remember, if you are reporting on calendar year, we are already a few months into the GRESB 2021 reporting period, so you might have limited time to establish and develop new policies and practices!

Getting organized

Good organization is the epitome of so many things in life, and GRESB is no exception. It’s very easy to have a quick skim read of the GRESB survey and think that you send out a couple of emails and all will be rosy. That’s not the case I can assure you! An approach I have found successful is to identify at an early stage who your key stakeholders are and set out the information that each stakeholder will be required to provide. Early engagement will be helpful for your colleagues, as they will have oversight of information that will need to be provided further down the line, it also helps you avoid that last-minute panic over missing information. Using project management techniques, such as Gantt charts or online systems such as Microsoft Project can also help you get organized and keep track of everyone’s tasks and deadlines.

Gathering asset information

The performance section of the 2020 GRESB submission is worth a whopping 70% of the total marks, and therefore deserves plenty of attention. A key element is the coverage questions focusing on, asset-specific energy, water and waste efficiency measures, technical audits and Green Building Certificates, that have been implemented and carried out in the past three years (Note that Green Building Certificates are not time-bound). Logically, the smaller the portfolio the easier it will be to keep track of asset-level activities, but for those with high asset numbers it becomes increasingly difficult. Gathering asset information is often conducted by sending out spreadsheets, although this can result in multiple versions of spreadsheets floating about, which is something to be careful about. An alternative approach is utilizing online surveys that mitigate the risks associated with multiple spreadsheets.

Figure 1: Using a Data Management System to collate and store asset level initiatives

A hot tip is focus in on some key assets, for examples those that have recently undergone refurbishments, where a lot of asset initiatives are likely to have taken place. Remember to think ahead to next year’s submission and how you can utilize information collected for previous submissions.

Getting savvy with utility data

GRESB has a range of requirements in relation to how utility data is reported, and you can easily feel overwhelmed when dealing with large data sets where it’s vital that the outputs are accurate. Its good practice to review utility consumption at the most granular level time permits. I recommend reviewing utility data at a meter level, as it enables you to clearly identify gaps and inconsistencies and presents you with a clear picture of consumption patterns for each supply and building area. Automatically, this greater visibility will benefit you when having to provide a clear explanation to GRESB on sector-level variances and unusual intensities.

Figure 2: Using a Data Management System to automatically alert variances at meter and asset 

In light of all these observations, a data management system is proven to be able to simplify and demystify the whole utility reporting process and can help monitor, track and review consumption throughout the year. Why do the heavy lifting yourself when a computer can do it for you after all?

Hopefully, I have conveyed some useful tips for approaching GRESB this year and I will leave you with a parting quote to motivate you to get organized!

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

This article was originally published on GRESB Insights

GRESB 2020: Three Key Changes

Each year, GRESB works with its members and key industry stakeholders to update the assessment and address the material issues within Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance of real estate investments.

Below we outline three of the key changes following the release of the 2020 GRESB Real Estate Reference Guide ahead of the GRESB assessment portal opening on the 1st April.


1. Structure

For 2020, separate components have been introduced to the Real Estate Assessment for Management, Performance and Development. The Management and Performance components replace the Management & Policy and Implementation & Measurement components from previous GRESB iterations.

The core component of Management is required for all participants, with the type of investment (standing or development) influencing the secondary component required. Separate benchmark reports will be issued for standing investments and development investments. As shown below:

GRESB Real Estate Reporting Structure
Figure 1 – GRESB Real Estate Reporting Structure. Source: GRESB 2020 Real Estate Reference Guide.

The 2020 inclusion of the Development component is a result of a merger of the previous ‘New Construction and Major Renovation’ module and the separate ‘Developer Assessment’ module. GRESB participants with development projects will now have a better understanding of their ESG performance and be able to compare with their peers.

Previously, the Development Benchmark only included developers, however funds with both standing investments and development projects will be included in both the Standing Investments Benchmark and the Development Benchmark – receiving two Benchmark Reports to reflect their performance in each component. The component weighting for each category in 2020 is outlined below for standing investment and developments:

GRESB Real Estate Assessment Scoring Methodology

Figure 2 – GRESB Real Estate Assessment Scoring Methodology. Source: GRESB, 2020 Real Estate Indicator Summary.

2. Assessment Review Period

GRESB has also introduced a Review Period into the assessment timeline with the aim of strengthening the reliability of participant responses and the subsequent benchmark results. The review period will begin on the 1st September when all participants will receive their preliminary GRESB results for 2020. Participants will be able to submit a review request before 15th September to GRESB using the Review Form. Final results are released to participants and investor members on the 1st October.


3. Asset Focus

GRESB has continued to develop further sector definitions to enable accurate and relevant comparisons with peers. Additional property types have been introduced for 2020 which will allow in the future for more granular benchmarking of asset performance. In addition, the terminology of ‘direct’ and ‘indirectly’ managed assets has also been removed.

The timeframe for asset energy, water and waste efficiency initiatives and technical building assessments has also been reduced from four to three years. This change has highlighted the importance that GRESB places on continual improvement.

Another major change is the removal of intensities calculations, which will be a relief for many parties who have previously had to manually calculate these figures! 


EVORA are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support after supporting 73 funds to submit to GRESB in 2019, including 25 funds located outside the UK. View our official Global 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 to see how we can help you.

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

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

CSR to ESG: an evolution

We’re used to hearing about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it’s been around for years, but when did being responsible turn into something much more for the built environment?

Many years ago now, I began my career at Business in the Community, and so my journey (eventually) into sustainability. Even then, as one of the Princes Trust charities, the message was loud and clear – the biggest and best companies were all talking about CSR. 

“… the idea that a company should be interested in and willing to help society and the environment as well as be concerned about the products and profits it makes.”

Cambridge Dictionary

But at that point, when we talked about ‘the environment’, we were talking about recycling and waste, not really about the physical building. Being environmentally responsible still seemed a fairly new concept when compared to diversity and inclusion or, local communities or ethics.

 ‘Green wash’

After a segway into other countries and sectors, about eight years ago, I found myself working for a large construction company and landed smack in the age of Health and Safety. CSR was evolving into charitable events and effective communications with local communities. People before profit.

I’m not sure I ever heard about sustainability. The key word then, I suppose, was ‘green’. In doubt? Want to charge more money? What to sound innovative? Say it’s green.

“Also known as “green sheen,” greenwashing is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for products that are environmentally sound.” 

Investopedia

But no one was really willing to pay for it yet. Green projects or proposals had to be taken to the Board, and you had to justify the business case and show the return on investment. Only the leading companies had a team who worked on it, and even then, it was probably only one person.

At the same time there were companies dressing up services or initiatives that were environmentally friendly and ‘green’ without any real substance to whether they actually were or not.

The business case for sustainability

It wasn’t until a few years later, when I joined UKGBC that the momentum really picked up. The early adopters and the pioneers of the green building agenda were no longer content to just say they were doing something, they wanted to really show they were walking the talk. They were really doing what they said they were doing, and they wanted to prove it to you.

Increasingly, more companies were realising that there was in fact a business case for green, and it wasn’t just about making more money.

“A built environment that enables people and planet to thrive…” 

UKGBC

As soon as the penny started dropping on the long-term benefits of building green and of retrofitting existing buildings (giving them a new lease of life!), the conversation really began. Suddenly, it wasn’t just about green, it was about sustainability.

I believe that a huge part of getting the sustainability conversation more mainstream in the built environment sector, was health and wellbeing. 

Here was the real business case for those lagging behind – happier, healthier staff who stayed with the company longer, had less time off, were more productive and therefore made the business more profitable. There’s the hook.

An ESG (re)evolution

Since joining EVORA two years ago, I’ve seen the biggest shift in opinion. Not just in the industry, but the whole conversation of sustainability, responsibility to the environment and climate change. 

 ESG stands for Environmental Social and Governance, and refers to the three key factors when measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a business or company.” 

Market Business News

As consumers and customers wake up to the state of our planet and the environment, the pressure on companies to act in a responsible way has really ramped up. But what does this mean for the built environment?

People are beginning to insist that the built environment in which they live, work, shop and spend much of their time, puts their health and wellbeing – as well as the future of the planet – at the heart of everything. And it’s not just about the places; increasingly, people are making their decisions on who to do business with, based on a company’s green and ethical practices. 

A recent study found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of millennials said ESG issues are important in their investing decisions with Gen Xers not far behind at 54% and Baby Boomers at 42%. In addition, majorities across all generations say ESG is a key factor in which companies they choose to do business with.

With this in mind, ESG is going to play a critical role in how the built environment is managed going forwards. From inception, through design, build, occupation and disposal. ESG needs to be fully embedded into an organisation’s decision-making. Those that fail to integrate ESG into their practices face the risk of finding themselves obsolete in the future. ESG is here to stay and will be at the forefront of tackling climate change and ensuring a sustainable future.