Author Avatar



Share post:

As David Wallace argues in ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, we are left with only 30 years to shield the planet from an irreversible damage making it inhabitable. This makes business leaders realise their responsibility in reducing the corporate carbon footprint. They recognise addressing the issue of climate change is not just good branding but is also equivalent to good business. This is consistent with the statistics from the survey where 40% of businesses have a net zero carbon emissions target. 77% of these businesses have this target set to 2030. This puts the reputations of these businesses under a threat, if such targets are not met. One more thing to note from the survey is, despite these targets being set by the businesses, sustainability is still not a core driver of future real estate strategies. 63% of the respondents believe company’s commitment to net zero carbon emission will have only be ‘somewhat influential’ in determining their real estate strategy in future. 15% of the respondents also believe that it will have no impact at all on the real estate choices made by companies. A disconnect between real estate and wider corporate thinking on sustainability can be confirmed through such surveys. Only 37% of the respondents in a global survey of real estate professionals have a clear target set to increase the proportion of portfolios accredited as sustainable via accreditation systems like LEED, DGNB, or Green Star. What is daunting is the fact that remaining two thirds of the respondents either have no set target, or are not even aware that such accreditation exists within their organization.  

With the pandemic shaking the view of real estate and global workplaces, there are some economics lessons from the past that are relevant. After the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08, there emerged a need for businesses to drastically reduce costs. The talks and concerns over sustainable offices and ‘green buildings’ were terminated. The crisis led to the creation of more densely packed offices with poorer workplace environment for larger number of workers. Now that a similar kind of supply shock is faced due to the pandemic, businesses are growing cost conscious. There seems to be a case of history repeating itself by choking off the re-emergent interest in sustainable real estate. The failure to achieve the set targets for sustainability will further push us towards the point of no return, not to mention the damage it will incur to the reputation of the companies. 

The takeaway from this survey would be the lack of awareness in respect to sustainability issues. This provides us with a key to the greater uptake of sustainable real estate being contingent upon raising awareness. For this, the three particularly important aspects are: 

  1. The responsibility and opportunity of real estate leaders to make business leadership aware of the tactical potential presented by the sustainable real estate to achieve wider ambitions and sustainable goals. 
  2. To raise awareness of the current accreditation system, their comparability and compatibility consistently enabling targeted actions across global portfolios. 
  3. The opportunity of office developers to move beyond ticking the ‘green office’ checkbox. Greater pressure needs to be put on the supply side to sell a sustainable solution instead of a sustainable product to the occupier, highlighting how sustainable buildings can optimise real estate spend while supporting wider ambitions. 

The talks on sustainability are evident with the target dates coming closer. The current business ambitions towards sustainability are not congruent to their real estate strategies. As the pandemic sides and climate crisis receives more of our attention, there will be no time to waste for businesses in taking steps to ensure a sustainable future.  


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *