The Future of Sustainability In The Commercial Real Estate Sector

The Future of Sustainability In The Commercial Real Estate Sector: A Summary of the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium

Read this post if:

  • you had wanted to attend the Symposium but were not able to make it
  • you’d like a quick overview of the key points of discussion throughout the day
  • you heard something about the link between frothy beer and the value of data (?!)
  • you’re interested in the feedback of this year’s attendees
  • you’d like to express your interest in attending the next Symposium in April 2018


On Thursday 3rd November, approximately 60 senior commercial real estate and sustainability professionals gathered at the Regent Hotel in Berlin for the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium.

Founded in 2011 by John Pike, the aim of the Symposium is to create a one-day, high-quality conference which gives delegates a complete overview of current sustainability issues as they affect commercial property both from an investor’s and occupier’s perspective.

joh-pike“To attend a 40 Percent Symposium is to join a committed and thoughtful audience of like-minded property and investment professionals who understand the need to deliver a sustainable future in property. The 2016 Symposium was our most successful event yet.”

John Pike, Founder and Managing Director, The 40 Percent Symposium

After having been held in London in 2015, this year saw the Symposium make a welcome return to Germany, where the event has always been held in high esteem, not least for the fact that it manages to attract attendees from a broader spread of countries.

This year, we were delighted to welcome attendees from more than 7 countries including the UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, The Netherlands and the USA, all eager to network with their peers and share best practices.

Keynote Address

“Let’s pay more attention to the optimisation of existing buildings’ energy performance…”

The day was kicked off by Martin Brühl, Managing Director of Union Investment and RICS Past President 2015/2016. Mr Brühl delivered a catchy keynote address in which he stressed the importance of optimising the energy performance of existing buildings in addition to the weight that is often placed on the credentials of new builds.

Martin Brühl“Today’s 40 Percent Symposium will mark one essential step towards making sustainability our business as usual… Each of us can contribute to that today, embed what we learn from others in our business routine and tell our clients about it. So our work is cut out and we must succeed. This should be an exciting day.”

Martin Brühl, Managing Director, Union Investment

The Outlook for Political Change in the CRE Sector

The first session of the day saw four experts exploring the following topics:

  • European Union carbon dioxide targets and an outlook on the corresponding regulation changes in Europe and Germany.
  • Thoughts on opportunities and challenges of green policy in the commercial real estate sector.
  • Market perspectives on landlord and tenant relationships and legal implications. Examples beyond pure regulation.
  • How to get tenants on board. Launch of a new sustainability survey to get feedback from real estate users.

The audience showed their engagement early on, with several questions to the panel on the social side of sustainability, including the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, on which one of our sustainability consultants, Louise Russell, has written this informative and well-received blog.

Attendees were also particularly keen to hear more about the work that ECE has done across its shopping centres, which includes collaborating with Philips to develop a new lightbulb.

Economics, Opportunities and Risks, from an Investor Perspective

Next up, these four experts delivered engaging presentations on the following topics:

  • The investors’ long-term risk: without green investment, performance improvement is not possible.
  • How does the enhancement of health and wellbeing in the built environment affect value in real estate?
  • How can the GRESB Assessment support the industry to optimise risk/return profiles of real asset investments?
  • Update on market value of green building certified assets in Europe.

The audience was particularly eager to ask as many questions as possible to Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Delos, following her presentation on health and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing is a topic that is gaining ever more interest each week; is it ‘the next sustainability’?

GRESB was also discussed at length during the panel session and the networking breaks, with many attendees asking us about the support we have provided on multiple GRESB submissions through the combination of our consultancy expertise and our sustainability management software, SIERA.

kay-killman“I thoroughly enjoyed the 40 Percent Symposium, especially the well-balanced mix of investors, developers and other organizations.”

Kay Killman, President, German Green Building Association

Best Practice From Across Europe, Focusing on Innovation

The final session of the day, split into two parts, saw these seven speakers present on the following subject matter:

  • 2050 climate goals for apartment buildings built and realised in 2014.
  • Spondability: Sponda’s signature of responsibility, which takes economic, social and environmental aspects into consideration.
  • Creating green value.
  • How data delivers sustainable value.
  • Turning global challenges into business opportunities.
  • The underestimated energy saving potential: premature pump replacement in existing buildings.
  • Harnessing consumer power.

In many ways, this session is what the 40 Symposium is all about – attendees learning about best practices from their peers.

The audience remained highly engaged right up until the close of the final presentation, keen to learn more about everything from water pump replacements to how seriously Sponda, the Finnish real estate investment company, takes CSR measures.

It was also our chance to shine, with our Managing Director, Chris Bennett, delivering a highly entertaining presentation on the value of data to commercial real estate firms. If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between frothy beer and well-managed sustainability data, you’ll have to get in touch! To whet your appetite, you can watch a short clip of Chris’ presentation in the embedded Tweet below.

frank-rader“For my colleagues and I, this was a fantastic event; well organised and with top content. We had many interesting discussions!”

Frank Räder, Head of Customer Training, Grundfos

The 40 Percent Symposium Will Return in April 2018!

We’re delighted with how well this year’s Symposium was received by all attendees. So much so, in fact, that a placeholder date has already been set for the next one in April 2018!

Based on the excellent feedback of attendees saying that they valued being able to get to Berlin very easily and the opportunity to meet colleagues from all over Europe and beyond, the Symposium will once again be held in Berlin.

Here’s what our partner, Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve has to say:

birgitmemminger-rieveTo host the 40 Percent Symposium and bring it back to Germany as an international sustainability conference has been a great experience. Very many thanks to John Pike, who moderated the conference with ease and charm and to the EMA Events team that made sure that our schedule was followed with no delays. I’ve talked to a lot of attendees to get their feedback, which I’d like to summarize here.

The Regent Hotel was a great venue and everyone felt at ease during the day, enjoying and discussing versatile and interesting topics with great speakers from various countries. They say they appreciated having this international symposium in Berlin, giving them insight to the actual political framework, current sustainability studies, and best practice experiences. More practical examples would be good to learn about next time. They also emphasized the excellent networking opportunity during the breaks and at the drinks reception in the evening.

All in all, we’re looking forward to the next Symposium in April 2018.”

Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, Managing Partner, ES EnviroSustain – German consultancy partner to EVORA

To register your interest in attending the next 40 Percent Symposium in Berlin in April 2018, click here now.

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Connect With The Speakers, Sponsors and Organisers of the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium

Using Listly, we have created the following list of all the Organisers, Speakers, Sponsors and Partners of the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium to connect with, which took place on 3rd November 2016 at the Regent Hotel in Berlin.

This allows you to follow and/or connect with those involved with this year’s Symposium. For example, you can follow some of the speakers on Twitter or, where social media profiles didn’t exist, learn more about the company by visiting its website.

Stay tuned for our full post-event write-ups.

Healthy Buildings In The Information Age

For sustainability as a concept, practice and brand, the digital age has revolutionised the forms and scales of information we are able collect, analyse and compartmentalise about our environments.

Technology has made the invisible visible. With popular discussions surrounding health and wellbeing and the WELL Building Standard, technology is already being applied in exciting ways, such as indoor air quality devices in offices and homes which intelligently monitor and display information for room temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and particulate matter. A smiley face appears if the environment is ideal.

On the one hand, this information has brought a new voice to users of space, such as occupiers within buildings who have the ability to measure and monitor their environments. On the other hand, it is attempting to quantify something that was previously seen as unquantifiable. Nourishment, comfort, and mind are just 3 of the 7 concepts of the WELL Building Standard which seek to analyse occupant health and well-being based on key proxies, such as circadian lighting and access to fruit and vegetables.

The key question is: Would the same conclusions be made without technology?

Highly unlikely.

In a building without intelligent air quality devices, or if a person did not have access to an air quality app in the City of London, it is not possible to identify that CO2 or particulate matter level is above average and therefore intolerable. In this case, people simply coped because they did not know. The fact is, information has made people more in touch with their environments; however at the same time it imposes a structure to what is ideal and not ideal, for example, smiley faces and sad faces.

The message is clear: people are becoming more aware of their environments and technology has triggered new ways of thinking about sustainability.

[clickToTweet tweet=”How technology has triggered new ways of thinking about sustainability.” quote=”People are becoming more aware of their environments and technology has triggered new ways of thinking about sustainability.”]

For example, tenants and landlords need to have better discussions on how office spaces are being used. It is through technology that better landlord-tenant engagements can take place to embed the issues of sustainability and health and wellbeing into lease agreements, fit-outs, on-going building designs and operation.

So the next time you check the temperature in your office space or reach out to grab a muffin at arm’s length from your desk; think of the ways this information is being captured.

Technology is always watching!

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IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016: Key Takeaways for the Commercial Real Estate Sector

About 10 days ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the long awaited Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016, confirming the agency’s growing support for energy efficiency policies and initiatives worldwide. One of the key themes of the report was the emphasis on the critical contribution that energy efficiency can make to broader energy policy goals.

With investment in energy efficiency in 2015 reaching $221 billion and energy intensity improving by 1.8% in the same year, the IEA confirmed that energy efficiency initiatives have reached a sufficient scale to influence global energy markets. The energy intensity improvement seen in 2015 amounts to triple the average rate seen over the past decade, which is a considerable advance, especially in the context of relatively low energy prices. The progress so far should, however, be seen in the context long term targets – as the IEA emphasizes, substantial further improvements will be required to ensure a smooth and timely transition to a sustainable energy system. Particular emphasis is given to the implementation of policy in areas which are either not regulated or subject to inadequate policies.

Given that an estimated 70% of global energy consumption is not subject to any efficiency requirements at present, the scope for improvement is substantial.

The regulation of previously unregulated areas of energy consumption is, however, not the only way to achieve substantial improvements. While the report analyses energy efficiency in the context of a wide range of sectors (e.g. energy intensive industries, light-duty vehicles, rail, shipping and aviation, envelope, lighting, appliances) the real estate sector clearly stands out. In 2015, the real estate sector (commercial, industrial and residential buildings) accounted for 53% of global incremental investments into energy efficiency; more than the next two largest sectors (transport and industry), combined.

Energy efficiency as the fuel of economic development

The report takes an interesting approach to energy efficiency, prompting readers to think about it as the “first fuel” – an energy resource which is available to all energy system stakeholders in abundance and whose integration into energy development strategies can yield varied but important savings and benefits. The IEA highlights energy efficiency as a means to reduce emissions, help tackle air pollution concerns and climate change, but also praises it for its capability to lower energy expenditure. The report also places a lot of focus on the ways in which energy efficiency can help satisfy growing energy demand, improve energy access and energy security and ultimately contribute to economic resilience and the betterment of living standards. The priorities and goals of stakeholders committing to energy efficiency schemes will inevitably vary based on their specific circumstances.

The main achievement of the Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016 is that it manages to bridge the gap between sectors and stakeholders by portraying energy efficiency as a tool which can not only help deliver existing energy and climate goals but also bring about a broader range of the positive impacts such as those listed above.

Key takeaways for the commercial real estate sector

While being subject to a wide range of energy efficiency policies (including Energy Performance Certificates, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme in the UK), the commercial real estate sector retains significant potential for further improvement.

On the one hand, energy expenditure in commercial real estate office buildings, for example, usually accounts for a large share of building service charge costs, providing a strong bottom-up incentive to improve energy efficiency. On the other hand, commercial real estate buildings make up a high share of global energy consumption and are also seen as having a wide range of energy savings opportunities, which raises their importance in the eyes of policy-makers. The combination of these top-down and bottom-up factors is a growing interest in the pursuit of energy efficiency in the sector.

What renders the commercial real estate sector truly unique is the range of market-driven certification, assessment and benchmarking initiatives which set an ever increasing industry standard for resource management and efficiency.

Initiatives such as BREEAM, LEED, HQE, ENERGY STAR and GRESB all reinforce incentives for stakeholders to measure and improve energy performance. Moreover, while energy management only constitutes one aspect evaluated in many of these initiatives, the identification and redressing of inefficiencies can go hand in hand with a stakeholder’s ability to attain higher scores.

So how can commercial real estate assets progress towards their potential for energy efficiency?

Our recommendation is to start with a robust measurement and analysis strategy which can, for instance, be undertaken as part of an asset and/or portfolio energy assessment aligned to standards such as ISO 50001. Such an approach is established on the basis of improving accuracy and completeness of energy consumption data which is fundamental in identifying potential areas to enhance energy management and improve efficiency. Analysis can then form the basis of meaningful performance improvement targets and ongoing monitoring and reporting to ensure continued progress. Such ongoing, documented processes will support in voluntary reporting to indices and certification, which can in turn provide an incentive for further improvements.

The growing interest and participation we have witnessed in voluntary certification, assessment and benchmarking initiatives, such as GRESB, are certainly a very good indicator of the commercial real estate sector’s engagement in energy management.

To gain more insight into the ways in which commercial real estate assets can benefit from becoming more energy efficient, refer to one of the following case studies:

For any other questions and to find out how we can help your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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The Implications of Brexit on Skills and Delivery in a Service-Based Economy

Five-and-a-half years ago I, together with two partners, set up EVORA, a specialist consultancy focused on the delivery of sustainability advice to the real estate industry. Our plan was simple: we believed that the level of sustainability support to real estate businesses was limited. We wanted to create a consultancy that delivered value-adding sustainability advice to the industry as a professional service – something that, in our opinion, was markedly needed.

We have been successful and grown organically; by the end of the year we will have 20 staff. Our approach to recruitment has been simple – recruit the best staff and invest in their development to the benefit of all; individuals, the company and clients. To this end, we introduced a tough recruitment process designed to select the best. All who join have to complete multi-stage phone and face-to-face interviews followed by a timed interview test.

This policy has been successful. We have a strong and competent team. The success of our approach has also been demonstrated by business results. It has also resulted in approximately 25% of our workforce being made up of non-UK, European citizens.

All have been educated at top UK universities (a process that has, in itself, contributed to the UK economy). Furthermore, they continue to contribute to the economy, directly through tax contribution and also significantly, through the provision of consultancy advice that helps to enhance performance and improve competitiveness of our clients’ businesses. We have also expanded service delivery into Europe. We now offer services to UK and European real estate firms investing across the continent.

We would not be where we are today without our team. I also believe that although numbers and percentages are different, our general position and approach will be broadly representative of many other UK based professional service organisations (large and small). So recent political discussions about the mandatory listing of non-UK staff along with possible restrictions and/or limitations on our ability to retain existing staff and freely recruit the best staff available are deeply concerning.

I think it is crucial that UK Government recognises this. I know that this matter has already been raised by many businesses, large and small, however, at EVORA we felt it important to set out our views publicly.

The UK faces turbulent times ahead, and regardless of individual views on the results of the Brexit vote, any decision that impacts British business’s ability to recruit and retain the best staff will have a huge detrimental impact on business and ultimately economic performance.

We’re hiring!

As a growing business, we’re always on the lookout for excellent talent. We always publish vacancies on LinkedIn, so be sure to follow our page.

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World Envoys Reach Agreement To Phase Out HFCs

Almost 200 nations reached an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, last weekend to amend the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and introduce a global phase-out of hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.

HFCs were introduced to limit damage to the ozone layer and replace refrigerants that have now been phased out – including R22. However, they have much greater levels of global warming potential (GWP).

EVORA: World Envoys Reach Agreement To Phase Out HFCs

Image Source: DW –

Developed countries are required to cap and phase down HFCs starting in 2019. This international agreement is legally binding and strengthens existing commitments. The UK, for example, had already committed to phase down HFC use by 79% by 2030, starting in 2015. Timetables for developing countries are different.

What does this mean in the UK?

HFC refrigerant gases are used in air conditioning systems. Widely used HFC refrigerants for commercial air conditioning systems include R-410A, R-407C and R-134a. Phase down will largely impact on supply of new equipment, but it is expected that the phase out will be extended to include the supply of new refrigerant for servicing existing equipment.

Timescales are long term, however, EVORA recommends that real estate firms develop a plan to compile a record of landlord-controlled HFC refrigerants used across their portfolios. Firms are advised to also check with their maintenance providers that they are fully compliant with the current F Gas regulations, which require regular refrigerant leak testing and up-to-date records to be kept.

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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EVORA is Officially an Award-Winning Sustainability Consultancy!

Being filmed is definitely not in my job description, but that’s what I found myself doing on a sunny August day in Liverpool’s Chavasse Park. I was answering questions about the work EVORA has done with Liverpool ONE over the last three years.

I had been invited to the RARAs – the Reward and Recognition Awards which Liverpool ONE holds annually, not only to recognise the accomplishments of its own staff, but also its tenants, suppliers, and contractors. I had no idea what I was filming for; it was vaguely mentioned that EVORA had been nominated for an award – but I didn’t know which award and little did I suspect that we were in with a chance of winning.

A Beautiful Location and a Great Theme!

EVORA is Officially an Award-Winning Sustainability Consultancy

The beautiful Eaton Hall. Photo: Maria H, Flickr

The awards were held at the beautiful Eaton Hall in Cheshire. The invite to the RARAs had warned us to be on alert for deer, but I had no idea there would be hundreds roaming around the estate with a penchant for leaping into the road… Not a great way to calm the nerves! (A glass of champagne, however, did do the trick!) The theme for the evening was Copacabana, which was kicked off with Brazilian dancers and live samba drummers – definitely not my normal Thursday night!

Our Three-Year Engagement with Liverpool ONE

Various awards were given out on the night, recognising the stars of Liverpool ONE and its tenants. Then, before dessert, came our moment. We had been nominated by the Operations Director, Chris Grundy, and Health Safety and Compliance Manager, Karen Palmer, for the ONE Award for Collaboration.

EVORA is officially an award-winning sustainability consultancy!

The Copacabana party was great fun!

Our three years of work, which began with a one-off sustainability assessment that identified – and achieved – £7,000 of operational annual electricity savings for no cost outlay, had developed into an ongoing partnership between ourselves and Liverpool ONE, going from strength-to-strength. This culminated in the appointment of a new external ISO14001 auditing body (to better meet the needs of Liverpool ONE than the previous incumbent) following a re-tendering process managed by EVORA and eventual re-certification of the Environmental Management System to ISO14001 after a thorough three-day external audit.

We won!

The second the video started playing, I knew we had won, because the interview I’d recorded a month earlier was playing on the huge TV screens, all intercut with interviews by Karen and Chris! The positive comments from Karen and Chris were amazing to hear; often we deliver our services and know we have done a good job, but it can be rare to receive such direct and public positive feedback. Chris Grundy presented the award.

EVORA is officially an award-winning sustainability consultancy!

We won! Here is Chris presenting me with our award for ISO14001 accreditation support.

Our collaboration with Liverpool ONE is continuing to grow. We are currently working on their five-year energy strategy, which will provide them with a long-term sustainability vision. Additionally, transitional works are due to commence on the Liverpool ONE EMS to ensure alignment with ISO14001:2015.

All in all, it’s a very exciting time to be working with Liverpool ONE and we are proud to call them a client!

“Liverpool ONE has a number of KPIs listed within its current Business Plan.

One of our strategic goals is to maintain ISO14001 certification for our Environmental Management System. We have once again managed to achieve this objective through our long-term collaboration with EVORA.

EVORA has provided expert knowledge, advice and support on a variety of topics including ISO14001, improvement initiatives, monitoring performance and legal compliance on an on-going basis in order to achieve our aims.

We have built up a strong working relationship with EVORA, which has delivered a number of tangible benefits and we look forward to continuing the partnership into the future.”

Karen Palmer, Health Safety and Compliance Manager, Liverpool ONE

To discover how we can help support your organisation with ISO14001 accreditation, or for any other queries, please get in touch.

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A Brief Note from EXPO REAL 2016 in Munich

Three days of back-to-back meetings with property funds and investors? Sounds good to us!

I’ve managed to find five minutes between meetings to write a brief note from Munich. Here are my key points…

EXPO REAL is an amazing industry event with incredible representation from an enormous cross-section of the real estate investment community.

It’s been three days of great networking and back-to-back meetings, with meaningful and engaging discussions. Sustainability is being talked about seriously.

From the conversations we’ve had, GRESB has clearly been very impactful, with good data and sustainability systems like our SIERA being important in understanding performance to ensure a return on investment is achieved.

What’s trending from a sustainability angle?

  • Asset certification is seen as more and more important, especially in Germany
  • GRESB and how many green stars funds have achieved
  • Sustainability is now high up on the agenda of everyone we’ve spoken with

We’re looking forward to continuing the sustainability / GRESB / responsible property investment / energy management conversations with as many people as possible at next month’s 40 Percent Symposium in Berlin.

Since 2011, the 40 Percent Symposium has established itself as the leading resource for those working in sustainability within the commercial real estate sector.

Its mission is to bring you the latest thinking on sustainability in commercial real estate investment, occupation and ownership.

Property investors, occupiers and owners will meet in Berlin on 3rd November for the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium.

Book your place today!

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Leading the Sustainable Revolution with a Business-Driven Evolution

Sustainable Commercial Solutions rebrands as EVORA

The last five years have been a whirlwind.

Driven by a desire to show that sustainability is a professional service in its own right, and convinced by the value it can deliver to the commercial real estate sector, Paul Sutcliffe, Ed Gabbitas and I launched Sustainable Commercial Solutions back in early 2011.

We haven’t looked back – not that we’ve had any time to!

Since those early days, we:

  • have expanded to a team of 15 (and will soon be 18)
  • are delivering a full scope of sustainability services to major investors across Europe
  • have developed a unique sustainability software system, SIERA, specifically for the property sector, which is taking the market by storm
  • are redefining M&E consultancy with a unique energy-focused offering delivering resource efficiency to major funds
  • have become a GRESB Premier Partner and supported our clients on 41 submissions this year alone, with SIERA delivering immense efficiency and automation

So we’ve been pretty busy!

Driven by Our Values

From our humble beginnings we have held firm to our core values of professionalism, honesty and integrity, with an absolute commitment to deliver the very highest quality of service to our clients in all that we do. I am sure many may say similar things, but we truly live and breathe this with a passion and the trusted long-term relationships we have built up with all our clients are testament to this.

Over the years, our focus has been to passionately develop our advisory services and technology platforms to deliver leading-edge solutions that focus as much on good business sense and a return on investment as delivering on the green agenda. This practical approach has been extremely well received by our clients.

Increasing Our Market Presence

More recently, we have recognised the importance of promoting all that we do. In May this year we brought in Russ Avery, a very talented marketing professional, as our Marketing Director. Since then, there is no doubt our profile has gone through an amazing trajectory but whilst still standing firm to our true values. Numerous thought leadership pieces and important forthcoming events, with collaboration from industry leaders, are enabling us to share our experience and knowledge to a far greater audience; this is really exciting, especially as we see how quickly sustainability is transforming this industry.

But let’s get back to the really exciting news… Sustainable Commercial Solutions is no longer – we are now EVORA.

Russ comments:

“Sustainable Commercial Solutions had always been focused on helping its clients to reap the business rewards of sustainability. But its branding was not reflective of that.

I identified an opportunity for us to own a brand that reflected not only the professional side of sustainability, but also our deep expertise in commercial real estate. To do that, we had to move away from the overused nature-based branding that is typical of the ‘green’ sector, and move more into the professional services realm.

The elegant EVORA logo evokes the visual metaphor of a floorplan and conveys our professional, strategic and planned approach to what can often feel like a minefield to our clients.”

EVORA, although not an acronym, emerged organically from our discussions on the transformation and impact sustainability is having on the property industry, and the associated evolution (EVO) of real estate assets (RA). It also recognises our own evolution and provides us with a strong professional brand, which far better represents our identity.

I am very proud of what we have achieved to date as a committed team of professionals, but this represents a step change for our company and positions us strongly for the future.

To learn more about us, please visit the following page:

Interactive Brochure

The Evolution of Sustainable Commercial Solutions into EVORA


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Slavery: A Very Modern Problem

Almost two centuries since slavery was abolished across the British Empire, slavery has remained an issue. Although slavery has now been abolished globally, it continues to be practiced in many forms and presents a challenge to supply chain management.

The term ‘Modern Slavery’ itself encompasses slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced or compulsory labour. The Global Slavery Index estimates that nearly 45.8 million people in 167 countries are in some form of modern slavery, this rises further when statistics relating to human trafficking are included. However, it is widely believed that these statistics underestimate the true scale of the problem.

The global Slavery Index:

The global Slavery Index:

In October 2015, the UK government introduced the Modern Slavery Act to assist in tackling this. The Act includes a transparency in supply chain provision whereby businesses with an annual turnover of £36m or more must produce a statement each year setting out the steps they have taken in the last 12 months to address instances of modern slavery in their supply chain. A link to the statement must be publicly visible on the business’ homepage and be signed by an appropriate senior person in the business.

Interestingly, a recent review by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre of 75 company statements found that only 22 met the minimum legal requirements such as a director signatory and a link to the statement on their website’s homepage. Of those that met the minimum requirements only 9 reported on all 6 criteria suggested by the Act. However, this is likely indicative of the stage many companies are at in addressing risks from Modern Slavery.

This is the first year in which companies are publishing statements, and the government acknowledges that it is not a level playing field for all companies. Many companies had already left the starting block with sufficient policies and checks in place to meet the requirements of the Act. However, for many others their first statements show they are starting to act on the issue and the steps they plan to put in place to address supply chain risks.

To comply with the Act, we recommend the following six steps are taken:

  • Scope your supply chain and assess key areas for risk
  • Establish policies to address modern slavery
  • Embed Modern Slavery within existing due diligence processes
  • Engage and seek assurances from service providers and/or contractors
  • Audit responses
  • Publish a Transparency in Supply Chain Statement each year

We are already helping some of our clients with the transparency in supply chain component of the Modern Slavery Act.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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