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.

EVORA Global announced as headline partner on Estates Gazette new Sustainability Programme

EVORA is pleased to be working in collaboration with the Estates Gazette and other industry leaders to share knowledge and key learnings about sustainability with the real estate industry.

Find out more here.

  • Read the article “How real estate is mobilised to face a real and present danger” by Chris Bennett here.
  • Listen to the podcast “Hope or fear? How the built environment needs to approach the climate change” featuring Ed Gabbitas here.
  • Listen to the podcast “Property and the climate crisis: how should real estate respond?” featuring Matthew Brundle here.

There has never been a better time to be talking about climate change and the broader sustainability agenda and Estates Gazette are ideally placed to inform the industry as a whole. Working with the Better Buildings Partnership, Hammerson and Drees & Sommer, we aim to share our wide knowledge of the industry and sustainability with the EG audience. 

Real estate is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, representing around 40% of global carbon emissions, which means it is also an industry that has the biggest opportunity to make a difference.

“We are fortunate to work with many clients who already have sustainability high up on their agenda, but we recognise the wider real estate industry still needs guidance and support. With the sustainability agenda ever evolving and climate change and net zero at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we believe it’s the ideal time to share our knowledge and expertise with a wider audience. By partnering with the Estates Gazette provides the perfect platform to share our learnings and  support the industry to rise to the challenge and tackle this issue head on.”

Chris Bennett, MD, EVORA Global

The new programme coincides with the launch of the Climate Change Commitment by the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), which has been signed by 23 of the UK’s leading commercial property owners.

The Commitment highlights the need for buildings to be net zero carbon by 2050 and commits signatories to publicly publish their own pathways to achieving this by the end of 2020. Read the full BBP press release here.

If you would like more information about how EVORA Global can support your business in achieving its climate goals, please do contact us.

Rugby goals: EVORA EDGE appointed by Wasps to improve energy efficiency

EVORA EDGE has been appointed to provide energy and sustainability consultancy services to Wasps Rugby Club. The remit covers a wide portfolio of buildings from the iconic 32,609 seater Ricoh Arena stadium to a large exhibition hall, hotel and casino.

This is an exciting opportunity as Wasps are looking to set ambitious targets in terms of their energy consumption.

EVORA EDGE will also be advising them on a range of strategic actions to ensure energy management is at the forefront of their operational and day-to-day decision making. They have already committed to a combined heat and power generation scheme for the stadium.

Combined heat and power (CHP) systems are highly efficient because they capture and utilise the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process. By generating heat and power simultaneously, CHP can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to the separate means of conventional generation via a boiler and power station.

Wasps Managing Director Stuart Cain says the rugby club is committed to reducing its carbon footprint year on year.

“We’d like it to  see a 10% reduction in energy usage over the next year and are looking to set an ambitious carbon footprint reduction target of 30% by 2030, we’re really pleased to be working with EVORA on this strategy and are investigating a range of other measures to increase our overall sustainability as a business.”

The Wasps Rugby Club is one of the largest in Europe and has turned the Ricoh Arena into an award-winning venue visited by over 1 million people each year and hosting global artists such as the Spice Girls, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Rihanna.

If you are interested in understanding how a CHP system could reduce your energy costs contact EVORA EDGE on info@evoraedge.com or phone on +44 (0)1743 341903.

EVORA Insights: GRESB and Data Quality

Interview with Ragnar Martens, Director IT and Analytics

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

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

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

You can watch the full video here:

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

Contact us today to discuss your sustainability needs.

EVORA Supports Moorfield to Produce its Latest CSR Report

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

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

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

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

You can read the report here.

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

Interview with Roxana Isaiu, Director Real Estate, GRESB

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

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

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

You can watch the full video here:

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

Contact us today to discuss your sustainability needs.

Career Opportunities at EVORA

At EVORA, we are able to apply our depth of knowledge and experience to help organisations understand and manage environmental risks, as well as realise the opportunities to protect and enhance the long term value of their assets. Our breadth of knowledge and client base have grown year on year and every member of the team is passionate about sustainability as a professional service.

We intend to grow our team by identifying individuals who have similar values, technical expertise and enthusiasm for their work.

We are currently recruiting for the following exciting consultancy positions:

If none of these current roles fit your expertise, but you are a sustainability professional who’d really love to work for a company like EVORA, please get in touch anyway. The team is expanding rapidly and we are always open to speaking with individuals who fit with our culture and values.

We are also recruiting for the following operations and software roles:

Our EVORA EDGE team are also looking for people working in the following areas:

Building Physicists, Building Services Designers and Engineers, EPC assessors, Air Conditioning Energy Assessors, CAD engineers, M&E Tech iCal Services Managers.

No agencies please!


How to apply

Passion and enthusiasm are essential qualities as is a practical common sense approach and a determination to deliver the highest quality of work.

If you think you’ve got the skills and experience to join our rapidly expanding business, we’d love to hear from you!

To apply, please email recruitment@evoraglobal.com with your CV or see our LinkedIn page.


Staff benefits and rewards

We have a great range of benefits, including:

  • A competitive salary, reviewed annually in line with industry averages
  • Attractive discretionary bonus structure
  • Health insurance with Vitality
  • Pension scheme (with staff contribution matched)
  • 25 days annual leave increasing to 30 days by year 7 (plus public holidays)
  • Additional 5 days holiday every three years to support one month sabbatical
  • Flexible working hours (core hours 10-4, with 37.5 hour working week)
  • Flexible lunch break
  • Remote/home working in agreement with line manager
  • Two days per year to volunteer for charity
  • Excellent ongoing professional development support
  • Generous maternity package
  • Multiple locations – London, Bolton, Birmingham (dependent on role)
  • Plus: childcare vouchers; Bike2Work scheme; payroll giving and more

Skills and expertise

We are particularly keen to hear from people with the following expertise and knowledge:

  • Client account and programme management
  • Depth of technical knowledge of sustainability issues and application to real estate
  • EMS development and operation to ISO certification levels
  • Managing large environmental data management programmes coordinating multiple parties
  • Monitoring and analysis of energy consumption data
  • Regulatory and voluntary reporting, e.g. CRC, GRESB, CDP
  • Environmental and Energy Audit Experience for commercial buildings
  • ESOS Lead Assessor
  • Detailed understanding of UK environmental legislation (ESOS, CRC, EPCs, MEES)
  • BREEAM in Use Assessor and/or WELL Accredited Practitioner status

To apply, please email recruitment@evoraglobal.com with your CV or see our LinkedIn page.

Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050: a Green Revolution

Bold Ambition? UK to Legislate 2050 Net-Zero carbon target.

Last night, Theresa May, in one of her final acts as UK Prime Minister, pledged to take on board recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change to establish a legally binding net-zero target by 2050.

The approach, proposed today (Wednesday 12 June 2019), would see the UK become the first member of the G7 group of countries to legislate for net zero emissions.

This is a bold commitment. It is a (in our view exciting) response to increased public awareness of environmental issues and the dangers faced from a ‘climate emergency’.

This follows parliament’s declaration of a climate change emergency back at the start of May and Theresa May’s determination to leave a positive legacy after she steps down from the role of Prime Minister.

Whilst this is an exciting step, there is a lot to do and 2050 is just over 30 years away.  The strategy and the means to deliver on this target is yet to be determined. Key questions include:

  • How will it be financed?
  • What technologies will be given priority?
  • And what will the role be of international carbon credits? Net Zero plans will allow the offsetting of emissions.  Control is needed to prevent and avoid loopholes

Some of the negative press about the plan focuses on cost. The Treasury has indicated that is will cost £1 trillion. However, this misses the point. Calculations don’t, for example, consider the uplift in the green economy for example. And in even simpler terms, the long term costs of not doing anything are far greater.

This is just the beginning of this new phase of tackling climate change, it isn’t a silver bullet and there is much detail to agree for an effective strategy to be set in place. Time will tell, but for now, I am going to be positive.

It really does feel like we are turning the corner.

EVORA supports Schroder Real Estate Investment Management (SREIM) to achieve the first ‘Fitwel for Workplace: Multi-Tenant Whole Building’ Certification in Europe

The Schroder UK Real Estate Fund office asset, Battersea Studio 1, was officially awarded the first ‘Fitwel for Workplace: Multi-Tenant Whole Building’Certification in Europe. As official Fitwel Ambassadors, EVORA supported in the completion of the assessment.

As a ‘Whole Building’ assessment, the Fitwel certification applies to the entire asset and all building users (including tenants), not just the base building and building management staff. The building achieved 97 Points and was awarded a ‘One Star’ rating.

Read more about EVORA and Fitwel here.

In addition to validating the existing health and wellbeing credentials of the building, the certification process also identified several ‘quick win’ improvement opportunities, which have all now been implemented, including:

  • conducting an occupant commuter survey to better understand active transport requirements for building users (e.g. bike storage and shower provision);
  • establishing an indoor air quality management policy;
  • installing point-of-decision signs promoting use of staircases rather than lifts; and,
  • assigning a meeting room for out-of-hours ‘wellness activities’ (e.g. book club, yoga).

Committed to continual improvement, SREIM, EVORA and Battersea Studio 1 are already actively working on progressing further enhancements to the asset and will aim to target a ‘Two Star’ Fitwel rating when it’s due to recertify.

Oli Pye, Associate Director at EVORA commented, “We’re really chuffed to have supported SREIM to achieve this certification for Battersea Studios 1. It’s was already a great building with lots of strong health and wellbeing features, however, through the certification process, we have been able to make it even better, as well as identify opportunities for further enhancement. We look forward to helping deliver these additional improvements for the benefit of all of the users of the building.”

You can read the full SREIM press release here.

Gaining an EDGE: Engineering and building physics services

At EVORA we know from long experience there is a huge amount of unlocked potential in existing commercial buildings. But we see time and again how the realisation of that potential is so often obstructed by the long and complicated supply chains involved.

That’s why we set up EVORA EDGE, our engineering and building physics team which, in just over two years, has grown to a team of six with further expansion planned this year.

EVORA EDGE allows us to deliver an end-to-end service and provides a solution to the often negative impact that mechanical and electrical teams (M&E) can have on achieving successful sustainability policies.

Traditionally, fund managers will appoint asset managers, who appoint property managers, who appoint M&E consultants, who support the appointment and policing of M&E contractors. This is a long supply chain – from the technical specialists to the decision makers. Unfortunately, in many cases, translation of the technical expertise gets lost along the way.

In our experience, M&E consultants often simply respond to requests at an individual building level, without stopping to think, evaluate and advise on where and how long-term value can be also be added through the day-to-day running and management of a building and portfolio.

The addition of EVORA EDGE to our service seeks to change this. We believe we can better target cost-effectiveness, standardisation and open up opportunities to better support asset improvement in both the short and long-term.

We believe we can better target cost-effectiveness, standardisation and open up opportunities to better support asset improvement in both the short and long-term.

We like to think outside the box.  Whilst we offer standard MEP services, we also believe M&E consultancy teams can offer greater value. We deliver all of the following:

  • Procurement support for M&E contractors
  • Development of M&E replacement plans
  • Project management
  • M&E consulting – the policing role

But we also aim to identify improvements that fit into asset management plans, support client sustainability initiatives and ultimately help protect and enhance asset value for the long-term.

Take a look at some of our case studies and see how the EDGE team might be able to help. For more information contact the EDGE team on 01743 341903 or email info@evoraedge.com


Case studies

  1. Ambitious CO² reduction policy for UK local authority Guildford Borough Council
  2. Sophisticated building modelling reduces overall energy consumption at Broad Quay House
  3. PV systems achieve internal rates of return (IRR) in excess of 6% per building for Aberdeen Standard Investments
  4. Modelling software identifies cost-effective measures for energy efficient refurbishment at Regents House