Posts

Social Reporting – Where to start?

Although ESG has by now been around for some time, in truth businesses have only been taking the S seriously for a few years. The social sector is very much environmental’s little sister.

And, as with any emerging sector, the quality of metrics can vary and this can be a challenge for any organisation looking to get serious on reporting. How then, should you approach the task of finding a reliable standard against which you can report your social metrics?

There are a number of nationally and internationally recognised social measurement frameworks. Understanding what makes most sense for your business is an industry-specific one. In general, businesses should look for independently verified social reporting tools. For example, GRESB has a number of social metrics within its standards, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals naturally need to be considered. The World Green Building Council’s Health and Wellbeing framework is a central plank in the way we do all things social here at EVORA and it is favoured because it offers the flexibility to meet the needs of funds across different geographies while relying on a well-respected overarching framework. Likewise, standards should require evidence for certification against them – the market will no longer tolerate businesses marking their own homework. With the principles of evidence-led and third-party assurance alongside recognised standards, businesses can report in confidence.

The metrics within the frameworks can vary quite broadly from one geography to another. This is a great strength in social reporting. Insofar as it is possible to compare the two, environmental targets should typically be science-based targets (SBT) which tie in with global climate resilience parameters, and have a strong compliance component. Social metrics, meanwhile, don’t fit into quite such a neat box. Because social metrics are about doing what is right for specific people in specific places, the metrics should vary from place to place.

This is not to say that there are no commonalities between markets and geographies: high quality jobs, excellent training and education opportunities and strong local partnerships should always feature in social reporting. That said, understanding the challenges of individual communities, the goals of investors and the legislative requirements of the jurisdiction mean that the details should be considered and embedded into the framework too. For example, in Germany, limits around employee data protection mean that collecting information on protected characteristics is not possible. Hence, businesses need to think locally about what they can realistically deliver.

The differences between environmental reporting and social reporting are not so vast, however, when it comes to the rigour required to report what is being delivered. Both types of reporting require organisations to meet the highest standards of transparency and evidence. In some jurisdictions, as in the European Union, where the EU Social Taxonomy promises a new direction for social reporting within the member states, and will likely require third-party verification and audit processes for social data.

For investment managers, our advice is to find a reporting framework which meets the highest standards of external scrutiny, focusing on independently verified reporting above all else. The framework needs to be flexible to work across the fund and asset types to meet the different social needs in each place. Finally, understanding investors’ own objectives is crucial in ensuring a fund can meet expectations, and where this isn’t obvious – ask questions.

If an investment manager needs to guess, there’s a risk of running a generic programme which neither meets community needs nor the expectations of investors.

If you need help building up a social reporting framework for your business, please get in touch with Sarah Coughlan, EVORA Associate Director.

Visit our social wellbeing page for an introduction of our services.

Decreased productivity and increased health incidents? Poor indoor air quality is to blame

We’ve all had the feeling -we’re sitting in a full meeting room, doors closed, no windows; at first you don’t quite notice the feeling of sluggishness, the drifting focus, the rising tiredness. As the meeting proceeds the discussion feels as if it’s becoming steadily less relevant and constructive and the air starts to feel thick and damp. By the time the end of the meeting arrives, you’re left wondering what was even discussed in the last fifteen minutes and whether or not you’d fallen asleep for any of it.

This is a common occurrence across indoor spaces and is directly related to decreasing air quality in rooms over time. Each year roughly 100€ billion is lost in the EU alone due to decreased productivity and increased health incidents from poor air quality. These issues range from inhibited focus due to the CO2 build-up in offices to the immune-compromising effects of fine dust particulates (like those that smog up our cities) to the increased cancer risks from elevated formaldehyde and benzene levels in newly furnished units. There is a range of possible pollutant sources, driving these issues, and the WHO has attempted to set thresholds for a number of them. Unfortunately, few buildings check to verify their compliance with these standards and those that do often fall short [1]. As such, the topic warrants increased attention from building owners.

The damages from the different pollutants is as varied as the types of toxic air compounds. As its affects are the easiest to measure and understand, technical analysis have until now been heavily focused on CO2; specifically, the role it plays on our ability to focus. As CO2 levels in a room increase, the relative amount of available oxygen taken up by the body per breath is decreased, and the brain’s metabolism is steadily slowed as it loses access to oxygen. Many analyses have found a range of impacts, starting with CO2 levels easily achieved from typical office spaces containing one employee per 10 m2 of space. These effects tend to increase dramatically and can inhibit factors like decision-making and overall strategizing. [2] By keeping levels close to outdoor levels, studies have demonstrated office workers to work up to 60% faster and with 12% greater accuracy than those in improperly ventilated spaces. [3] This issue will likely worsen in coming years, as the baseline CO2 level continues to increase, requiring more measures to maintain the same standard of oxygen quality in the rooms.

These concerns are, unfortunately, generally not as easily resolved as ventilating a room, as the shape, furnishings, and use of the room, as well as the specific compounds responsible for the toxicity, may form pockets within the room and provide unintended high levels of exposure to employees. [5]

Particulate matter, for example, which covers a wide category of compounds and particulate sizes, has been attributed to causing inflammation, respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and even linked to several cancers.[4] These particulates in their various forms are not always removed with standard air filtration methods and tend to move within air columns in atypical fashions. 

Poor indoor air quality is likely not only worsening our health, but, in a business sense, it is measurably driving down our productivity and the quality of our work. EVORA’s Health and Wellbeing team can provide strategies and suggestions to make sure the residents of your buildings remain healthier and are operating 12% more efficaciously than those in traditionally ventilated buildings.  


[1] https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2020/articles/improving-air-quality-improves-people2019s

[2] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-carbon-dioxide-in-a-crowded-room-can-make-you-dumber-180948052/

[3] https://airrated.co/rising-co2-levels-ruining-the-planet-and-our-productivity/

[4] https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2020/articles/improving-air-quality-improves-people2019s

[5] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260530137_CFD_study_of_the_effects_of_furniture_layout_on_indoor_air_quality_under_typical_office_ventilation_scheme

EVORians sweatin’ it out’

Fresh on the heels of our Walk This May challenge, we kept our fingers on the pulse with our June Bootcamp.

You are probably aware that June is known as GRESB season at EVORA. For our consultants, this is the biggest deadline of the year, with a larger than normal workload. It can be super stressful, so the Health and Wellness team wanted to make sure the activities and theme this month fitted in with the consultants’ busy schedules and helped them combat stress and keep a healthy mindset.

Therefore, we had Liam, a personal trainer and nutritional coach, run two sessions a week for the company, via Teams. This was optional to join, with no commitment to come to every session. It was important to us that it was held virtually so that anyone from the company could join in, no matter where they are located.

On Wednesdays, we met at 8:40am GMT to have a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session. As the name suggests, this really got us going before work on a Wednesday. It was great to see colleagues from around Europe join in and exercise together. It was great how we managed to warm up and down and still get a great heart pumping session in, all in 20 minutes.

Exercise is so important to mental wellbeing, getting the blood flowing, reducing anxiety and increasing cognitive functions. It’s also a great way to stay fit, especially for us office based lot who are used to a more sedentary lifestyle. Sara soon realized that when she works out in the morning “my mood is much better and I eat healthier during the day”

These HIIT sessions were great at working up a sweat and putting you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. EVORians were encouraged, and for Emma “doing the energiser has made me feel more alert and ready to crack on.”

On the Friday session, we slowed it down with a more sedate session. This one was held at lunchtime and had us stretching and releasing all the built up tension from the week. This was a great way to end the week, and Sarah felt it was “lovely to spend some time undoing all the hours of sitting that I do in a week.”

Straight after the more relaxed session was our regular meditation meeting on Teams. We’ve had this weekly since lockdown and is now led by one of our very own – Matt has been meditating daily for 7 years now and knows the importance of breathing exercises and meditation for both the mind and body.

Matt uses Headspace for the sessions, which all EVORians have access to once they’ve passed their probation. These sessions are a personal highlight of my week, giving me 15 minutes to breathe and take a second to align my thoughts and meditate. Like the bootcamp, there is no pressure to come to every session and anyone can join wherever they are based.

After this month, many of us are committed to keeping up a HIIT session weekly – that adrenaline rush after a workout is hard to beat and the positive effects for the rest of the day huge. As Andrea said, the exercise “helps to focus my mind on something else.  I feel like I can concentrate better afterwards.” Whether this was people’s first time trying HIIT or they are regulars at the gym, we have all seen the benefits of adding a 20 minute session to our weekly routines.

Huge thanks to Liam for leading the sessions this month.

EVORA Global partners with Fitwel to drive wellness in the built environment

Over recent years the focus on people-centric places within the built environment has gathered pace, with investors and tenants alike looking for ways to quantify and recognise the impact of buildings on their occupants as well as the wellbeing credentials of these spaces. This has been driven by a variety of factors, not least the growing evidence linking the quality of a building to occupant’s health and increased understanding of how the wider built environment impacts our daily lives.

With this in mind, EVORA launched its new Social Wellbeing service line in June, offering a holistic approach to Social Value and Health & Wellbeing. Having wanted to combine these two people-focused services for some time, EVORA’s new service line will provide best-in-class social value and health and wellbeing services backed by a robust methodology.

EVORA recognises the importance of healthy buildings and the positive impact they can have on their occupants and is therefore excited to announce it has become an official Fitwel Partner. Fitwel is one of the world’s leading certification systems which assess the impact of the buildings in which we live and work on our daily lives and long-term health. It describes itself as “a data driven certification system which aims to optimise buildings to support occupant health and well-being”.

Bringing together well-established best practice in built environment wellbeing and a blend of quantitative and qualitative social value frameworks, such as Fitwel, EVORA will be well positioned in an increasingly sophisticated market which will demand meaningful social and health engagement.

Philippa Gill, Executive Director, said of the partnership:

“We have worked with Fitwel for many years now and we are delighted to be formalising this relationship now.  Fitwel’s approach to data and evidence-based strategies aligns well with EVORA’s approach to impact through information and we look forward to the next stage in our impact-driven evolution together.”

Joanna Frank, President and CEO of CfAD, operator of Fitwel, said of the partnership:

“Our new Fitwel Provider and Fitwel Partner programs are helping further raise awareness of healthy building strategies that ensure increased occupant and tenant satisfaction. By aligning with and promoting Fitwel’s mission, we are thrilled to have such a great partner in EVORA, which is putting health and well-being at the forefront of its commitment to a people-centric approach through the built environment.”

See EVORA’s recent Fitwel work: PATRIZIA achieves Fitwel certification with the support of EVORA | EVORA Global

Why Social Wellbeing?

EVORA Global is delighted to launch its newest Service Line this month: Social Wellbeing.

After months of preparation, we are now able to offer Social Wellbeing services to our clients as we continue to move towards delivering truly comprehensive E, S and G support to the industry.

Social disruption from climate change, inequality and public health are some of the defining issues of our times and the real estate industry plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges by harnessing strategies which protect and enhance all property, people and the planet.

There is a rapidly growing demand for safer, healthier, more equitable, more comfortable, more productive spaces. In turn, assets which deliver social value and enhance local community adaptive capacity, inherently create more resilient investments. EVORA now advises on the integration of social issues into investment strategies, as well as the collection and reporting of social metrics aligned with best practice and or regulatory frameworks.

For some, the language might well raise some eyebrows – what is Social Wellbeing after all?

What is Social Wellbeing?

Social Wellbeing draws on the principles of social impact and health and wellbeing: these factors and increasingly better understand within the market and are emerging as a global awareness and industry leadership seek to make the most impact within their funds around the world. Forward-looking real estate investors now incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into business operations. While human health and wellbeing is an implicit component of ESG, it is now becoming an intentional and increasingly institutionalized focus across the entire real estate industry.

What is Social Impact?

Social impact is broadly defined as the effect of projects or programmes of work on local community stakeholders. This means that social impact is strongly linked to issues of economic outcomes: spending with local businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), employing local people and supporting those that have difficulties accessing the labour market. Social impact is interested in seeing the positive benefits from living and working in a community that comes into contact with the client’s assets. We focus on delivering locally appropriate outcomes for our clients and the communities that we work in.

What is Health and Wellbeing?

Physical health can be affected directly through toxic exposures and indirectly by the impact of real estate development on human behaviours, such as physical activity and healthy eating. Mental health is also directly influenced by access to daylight, green space, biophilic design, and indirectly by the impact that urban and building design have on wider social interaction and connectivity. The real asset industry also has far-reaching effects across social health through its hiring practices, approach to procurement, site selection and community engagement.

Market leaders are already prioritising occupant experience in their investments and in some cases, health promotion is being incorporated (particularly post pandemic) as part of wider value drivers. More mainstream market participants are aware of these opportunities and are looking for points of entry and engagement.

Uniting Social Impact and Health and Wellbeing

The market is changing rapidly. There was a time when an environmental strategy was a “nice to have” but those days are long gone. Market expectations now mean that businesses can no longer present an ESG Strategy without a comprehensive analysis of the communities that they impact and an understanding of how they can do more to maximise the benefits that their assets deliver. Clearly, there is a considerable degree of overlap between the disciplines of social impact and health and wellbeing.

In short, the Social Wellbeing service line offers our clients support in developing and managing assets that serve the people that work, live and interact with them.

If you would like to speak to one of EVORA’s Social Wellbeing experts, please get in touch to see how we can help.

Inside EVORA’s Offices

In 2021, we decided to move our London Head Office to somewhere more aligned with our identity and values. We were looking for a space with plenty of natural lighting, good ventilation and air quality system. We put together a focus group, the ENO (EVORA New Office) Group, which involved people from different locations globally, to go through office options, valuing the whole team’s opinions and input. That’s how we chose Birrane House in London Bridge where we moved in January 2022.

We are very proud of our new office, which is a bigger and better space, well-lit with larger desks, as well as a great break-out room for lunches and socials. The air conditioning unit also allows for ventilation of clean air, so we can keep an eye on our air quality and carbon dioxide levels regularly – 83% of our London office rate the air quality at four or five out of five!

It’s so important to check CO2 levels, as this can have a huge effect on everyone in the office – studies have shown that poor air quality can affect you short term, such as headaches, fatigue, irritation of the eyes and throat, and even allergic reactions. Long term effects can include sinus infections and even respiratory issues.

As well as looking after the physical health of everyone in the office, we want to ensure that we are on track to get Planet Mark certification for the 9th year in a row! Our new London office is optimised to achieve this, with lights automatically turning off without activity, excellent insulation and double glazing.

Now that we’ve been in Birrane House a few months, and people are feeling settled, we wanted to know what everyone felt about the office. This is in keeping with our values, as we believe in inclusion, collaboration and respect as three of the fundamentals of our company.

We sent out a survey primarily to see how the new Head Office was working for people and to understand what could be improved, but also took the opportunity to check in with EVORians in our other offices and those working from home to make our workplace better. This really helped build up a larger picture of how everyone at EVORA is doing and to prioritise the next steps in all our locations.

We had 95 responses, 53 of them were from London. It was great to see that overall the average rating people gave the new London office was 4.3 out of 5!

We were delighted to see that a lot of the ideas that came up are either already in progress or even available now, such as the socials that the Social Committee are organising. We just had a Pizza and Games night that was a huge success. This was in London, Bolton, Iasi and Berlin! There were tactical games, quick-fire games, and classic quiz games – something for everyone to play. There was also great feedback on the Coffee Roulette and Language Exchange initiatives that we have, with an overwhelming response that this is what people enjoy doing.

Coffee Roulette is where two people get paired up each month and between themselves arrange a half hour sit down, either in person or via Teams. As people are paired up randomly, it gives everyone an opportunity to meet others in the company who they may have never spoken to before.

The Language Exchange is a more recent initiative whereby staff who speak other languages are put into groups with a native or fluent speaker and can practise their language skills. As well as helping EVORians improve their understanding of foreign languages, many groups who would never have normally met did so during their regular working day.

Regarding the office itself, EVORians love the location and proximity to Borough Market, as well as the brightness and the size of the office; in the survey, 89.2% rated the lighting in the office at four or five out of five. We saw from the survey results that most people would like us to look into noise-cancelling equipment, on top of the noise-cancelling headphones already provided. It is now on the EVORA’s to-do list to look into sound absorbers or individual soundproof meeting booths.

A great idea that came from the survey was adding social time at the beginning of meetings, where we can do a fun poll, such as which superpower would you have, and to give people time to catch up before jumping into the meeting. At EVORA, we truly love all ideas that get everyone involved, no matter where they are located.

One thing that is being globally felt is the changing nature of the use of the office. The traditional office set-up is no longer the best fit in a post-Covid world, where working from home has proved to be successful and productive. Even if around 90% of EVORians come in for a maximum of two days per week currently, 91% of us feel part of the team. What this means for our offices is yet to be seen, but could result in a renovation or reorganisation of the office into more collaboration spaces and fewer desks. Watch this space!

We can’t wait to make some more positive changes to our offices, making a comfortable and welcoming space for all EVORians to work.

Plant Power Month

We celebrated Plant Power Month in April, inspired by National Gardening Week (27th April to 5th May). We spent the month taking cuttings of plants, growing vegetables, making seed bombs, and taking pictures of our plants.

Plant Power Month was a great success. We loved seeing EVORians posting their green babies on the Wellbeing channel on Teams and sharing how their plant projects at home were doing.

As well as providing oxygen, plants can also lower stress and anxiety, reduce fatigue, and improve your mood. Plus it’s loads of fun watching them grow! No matter the space you have, there is always an opportunity to get green-fingered. From vegetable cuttings to windowsill plants, you can get your daily dose of vitamin green, which has a huge impact on your mental health, wellbeing and on your step counter.

See below for what we did in the office!

Eco-Grow Set

We kicked off the month by sending out eco-grow kits to ten volunteers. These included ‘a taste of Italy’, ‘vibrant vegetables’ and ‘herb a’licious’. The seeds take some time to get going, so we won’t know for a while yet who has grown the best vegetable or herbs from the kits. We loved that the kits were eco-friendly too.

Vegetables in the office

We decided to show everyone how easy it is to ‘recycle’ the vegetables and fruit stones that we would normally not think twice about composting. It was great seeing how these scraps could get a second lease of life and it felt amazing doing it.

Our office garden included spring onions, garlic, basil, mint, celery, chilli seeds, and avocado seeds. After 5 weeks, our garlic has shot up to 55cm and our chilli seeds a much smaller inch of growth.

We are super impressed by the growth of all the vegetables and herbs, and delighted with how far they’ve come in such a small amount of time.

After posting about our avocado seeds, we found out that one of our team has been growing avocado plants for over ten years, which look amazing and so big! Definitely worth the wait and the patience that goes into growing them.

Seed Bomb Workshop

A huge thank you to the ladies of Wilder for leading a Seed Bomb Workshop in our London office. We had 12 staff come along to learn how to make seed bombs and spend the hour creating and wrapping them.

Seed bombs, or ‘earth dumplings’ were used in guerrilla gardening in the 1970’s, but go back hundreds of years in Japanese agriculture. They are a great way of spreading seeds in a large area that are protected from birds by the clay outer shell. Once it rains, the clay dissolves and the seeds, which by this point has already germinated, are safe from birds and well on their way to growing up.

As well as helping with wellbeing, the seed bomb workshop felt like a great team bonding experience. Everyone was getting their hands dirty and talking shop. With the busy season ahead for a lot of us, it was great that everyone could come together and switch off.

Plant Cuttings

To end the month, we planted everything that we had grown or taken cuttings from. We felt like proud mamas when our little seeds and cuttings that we had tended to the whole month were big enough to be potted and sent home with new mamas and papas. We couldn’t believe how many pots we could fill with cuttings!

We’ve really enjoyed getting our hands dirty for Plant Power Month and would highly recommend others to get out in nature and see what they can grow at home. We’ve proved you don’t need a lot of space and that with enough patience you can surprise yourself with what you can grow.

EVORA achieves Planet Mark certification

We are very proud to announce that EVORA has achieved Planet Mark certification for the 8th 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 and carbon reduction.

Social value is the net social and environmental benefit generated to society by an organisation, expressed in ‘£’. In 2021, EVORA generated £24,615 in social value.

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

Last year, EVORA reduced its total carbon by 38.6% from the previous year, a 44.3% carbon reduction per employee.

The emissions considered have been obtained from different sources: Electricity, T&D Losses, Natural Gas, Water, Business Travel, Homeworking (excluded from footprint).

We look forward to completing the assessment again next year as we continue to drive our commitment to generate further social value opportunities and to reduce our carbon emissions yearly so that together we can all halt climate change.

“I am proud that EVORA has received the Planet Mark certification for the 8th year running. This demonstrates our commitment to delivering positive outcomes for our people, our communities, and our environment. We will use this year’s results to drive further improvements next year, maximising social value for all.

Abigail Isherwood, Sustainability Consultant

Reconnecting

Suffice to say, it’s been a bizarre two years. It’s almost surreal now to be coming out of the pandemic and slowly making our way back to the office. After so much time working from home, it’s natural that a lot of staff were hesitant to come back in.

That’s where our Health and Wellness team stepped in. This awesome team have come up with a plan, to entice people back in to the office, but also to remind people to look after their mental health and wellbeing in these unusual times.

To do this? They’ve created a calendar for the year, with each month another theme. February’s theme was ‘reconnecting’, to get people talking and socializing with one another.

The aim of the game was to be paired up with another colleague, who you might never have spoken to, and have lunch together. Ideally, this would be in person, but as we have staff in six different countries and people still working remotely, it was fine to do via video too.

In total, 22 people signed up, and were paired up twice over a three week period. It was great to grab lunch together and chat, and as an added incentive, the Wellness team started a photo competition too – best photo and caption would win a lunch voucher.

My first lunch was with Imogen, who has just started at Evora. It was really cool getting to know one another over the Thorntons chocolates in the office.

A week, later, I met up with Ros – we’ve been talking over video for weeks now, so meeting in person was like meeting an old friend. We went out for lunch with Nat, and all of us really enjoyed getting out the office and talking about non-work things. Explaining to the server why we needed multiple shots of us posing in weird and fabulous ways was also a giggle!

Everyone had so much fun getting to know one another over the three weeks. It’s so important to feel belonging with others and create connections in the workplace – can definitely say that this months theme really helped with that.

Huge congratulations to Manuela and Ingrid who have won a food voucher to go towards their next lunchtime treat.

Stay tuned for next month’s theme and see how our group of volunteers find it!

A Quick Introduction to Social Value

Social value has been a theme for governments and businesses for the last decade. As something that started life as a means of trying to assure positive local outcomes for projects where public money was being spent, for example for a construction company commissioned to build a school, it has evolved into a broader concept designed to ensure that all organisations are thinking about people, places, and communities in their work.

The story started in public sector procurement. Public sector bodies including Central Government departments, local authorities, and councils spend billions a year on local public goods and services in the UK. In 2012, the Social Value Act was introduced with a key aim to transform the way in which this public money was spent in England and Wales. What the Act requires is that commissioners, who procure public sector revenue contracts or capital projects, ‘consider’ how they could secure wider social, economic, and environmental benefits, named social value from these contracts. [1]

Similar legislation has also been published by the Welsh and Scottish Governments, including The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act in 2014 and The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act in 2015.

In January 2021, the Government launched the Social Value Model which requires departments to ‘explicitly evaluate’ social value in all central government contracts. [2] The Social Value Model followed from the detailed laid out in 2020’s PPN 06/20 which laid the groundwork for the Model and provided an overview of the Model’s focus. The Model sets out the Government’s goals for social value in the form of five strategic policy outcomes: COVID-19 recovery, economic inequality, climate change, equal opportunity, and wellbeing. The Government has been a key driving force for the social value movement changing the way social value is perceived within many sectors, including commercial real estate, trying to understand what social value means to them, and how the concept can be incorporated into their business activities.

A month later, UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) identified a need from the built environment to establish a definition of social value that focused on the impact that buildings, infrastructure and places have on people. The high-level definition states that “social value is created when buildings, places, and infrastructure support environmental, economic and social wellbeing, and in doing so improve the quality of life of people”. Exactly which environmental, economic and social outcomes create social value will depend on the best interests of the people most impacted by the project or built asset”. [3]

It is not surprising that, over the last few years, we have seen a rise in relevant and practical guidance documents not only from the UKGBC, but other organisations, such as Better Building Partnership (BBP), in an attempt to support businesses within the built environment with social value.

In 2018, UKGBC published an introductory guide to ‘Social value in new development’ designed to help development teams understand social value in relation to the built environment, and what they can do to improve societal outcomes from new developments [4]. The guide maps social value outcomes against several core themes, including jobs and economic growth, health, wellbeing, and the environment, and strength of community (See Table 1).

Jobs & Economic Growth Health, Wellbeing, & the Environment Strength of Community
Decent jobs for local people and hard to reach groupsGood accessibility and sustainable transportationStrong local ownership of the development
Local people with the right skills for long-term employmentResilient buildings and infrastructureExisting social fabric is protected from disruption
School leavers with aspirations of the industryHigh quality public and green spacesThe new community is well integrated into the surrounding area
The local supply chain is supported and grownGood mental healthThriving social networks
Residents have comfortable homes which are affordable to operateGood physical healthVibrant diversity of building uses and tenures
Thriving local businessesLimit resource use and wasteStrong local identity and distinctive character
Table 1: Summary of social value outcomes across new development

Questions about the incorporation of social value within property management activities has also become a popular topic of conversation amongst commercial real estate companies leading to the ‘Responsible Property Management Toolkit’ being produced by Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) in 2021.[5] The toolkit provides practical guidance for asset managers, property managers and facilities managers on embedding sustainability (incl. social value) within property management services. Guidance notes provide clarity on social value, including information on the following:

  • What is social value?
  • Social value opportunities
  • Incorporating social value within the supply chain

Many real estate companies have begun to lean on both pieces of guidance to stimulate ideas internally about how they incorporate social value within their day-to-day property management activities as well as new development projects. As ESG has leapt up the strategic agenda in the last five years, the organisations able to address each element comprehensively have positioned themselves as leaders within the ESG space. The value of building a comprehensive environmental, social and governance strategy has never been more obvious as boards and stakeholders alike demand more from those they do business with.

Typically, ESG strategies tend to focus more heavily on the ‘E’ but at EVORA our clients’ strategies contain a strong ‘S’ component which is wholly aligned to their business objectives, whilst being aligned to industry best practice, such as UKGBC and BBP amongst others. Our approach allows our clients to be confident with how they communicate social value to investors and other stakeholders allowing them to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to ESG.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to start your social value journey with us today.


Sources

[1] Communities and Local Government. 2011. A plain English guide to the Localism Act. Department for Communities and Local Government. UK.

[2] Cabinet Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. 2020. Procurement Policy Note PPN 06/20 – taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts. Cabinet Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. UK.

[3] UKGBC. 2021. Framework for defining Social Value. UKGBC. London.

[4] UKGBC. 2018 Social Value in new development: An introductory guide for local authorities and development teams. UKGBC. London.

[5] Better Building Partnership. 2021. Responsible Property Management Toolkit. pp. 43-46.

Portfolio Items