The real estate industry faces a ‘triple threat’ of climate related issues unless it takes action now, a senior sustainability expert has warned.
Paul Sutcliffe, co-founder and chief operating officer at sustainability technology and services company Evora Global, said decision makers in real estate face risk to their reputations, falling foul of regulations but also of the impact of climate change itself.
As World Green Building Week (11-15 September) begins, Mr Sutcliffe said it is a time for action and for investment to be made to make buildings sustainable, rather than for further commitments.
“As an industry, we’re really good with commitments,” said Sutcliffe. “They’ve been published by all of the big institutions. Some say they will achieve net zero by 2030, others 2040 or 2050. But what our industry is not good at is actually taking action.
“However, with yet another summer of record breaking temperatures, wildfires and disruption, the time for taking action is now.
“Unless fund managers in real estate start investing on retrofitting, innovations and ensuring buildings are sustainable, there’s a very strong likelihood they will suffer in three big, overlapping ways.
“Firstly, they will fall foul of legislation, which is becoming ever stronger, and this will lead to a devaluation of their assets. Whether they take action now or not, the regulations will only keep coming and change will be forced upon them if they haven’t made it already.
“Secondly, reputations will suffer, both in industry but also with the wider public. When fund managers invest in a building that isn’t sustainable, it will not perform well, and poorly performing funds will affect their reputation as a fund manager.
“Finally and most importantly, they will have failed to meet the biggest challenge of our lifetime, the risk to the planet caused by the climate crisis. Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and we’re not doing enough.”
Sutcliffe acknowledged the economic environment might make it harder for many to implement sustainable practices.
“This economic environment is incredibly tough, with the cost of living crisis many fund and building managers are simply not prioritising climate change. This is understandable but we also know that major investors and real estate companies do have access to resources that make it possible for them to make a real difference. And now’s the time for them to do that.
“World Green Building Week must be the moment we in the real estate industry stop making meaningless commitments and put sustainability at the front of our agenda.”
About Paul Sutcliffe and Evora Global
Paul Sutcliffe is co-founder and chief operating officer of sustainability technology and services company Evora Global, whose clients include Hines, Invesco and M&G.
Founded in 2011, the company has over 200 staff and is a major proponent of the use of ESG data. Evora was recently featured in the FT 1000 as the 2nd fastest growing UK company in the real estate sector.
Evora’s SIERA software enables its clients to make investment decisions regarding climate change and sustainability.