Protecting our future: A focus on sustainability

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Estates Gazette, the UK’s leading publication in commercial property hosted an event in London - The Future of Real Estate. Drees & Sommer UK’s Head of Engineering Marco Abdallah joined a panel discussion that deliberated on the role that real estate plays in the future of cities.

UK Real Estate experts Sophie Carruth, Head of Sustainability at LaSalle Investment Management; Louise Ellison, Head of Sustainability at Hammerson, Angus Evers, Environmental Partner at Shoosmiths; Jon Gibson, Head of Sustainability at Avison Young and Sarah Ratcliffe, Chief Executive at Better Buildings Partnership to explore how the industry can play a leading role in the drive towards sustainability.

The conversation ranged on different strategies the industry can implement to deliver effective change towards sustainability. With construction contributing 30% of total global carbon emissions, using 40% of the world’s energy consumption and absorbing 40% of the world’s resources being used in buildings, real estate is undeniably one of the largest contributors to climate change.

And as the conversation around climate change becomes more heated and occupiers become increasingly conscious of environmental challenges, the industry must act in order to protect the planet.

The panel discussed the growing importance of technology in buildings as well as new approaches the industry can undertake in order to prioritise sustainability during the construction process.

Marco Abdallah said: “There are sometimes so many low hanging fruits - we sometimes think too complex. To make existing buildings more sustainable the key is to reuse as much as passionless to save the embodied carbon. It’s easy to save 30% to 40%.

“One of the bigger problems of sustainability relay on existing buildings. We have to understand the large impact that retrofitting can do to reduce carbon emission.”

Sarah Ratcliffe, Chief executive at Better Buildings Partnership, added: “Sustainability is a holistic topic. It starts with a vision, a commitment from the companies and is not only as a marketing strategy. We spend 90% of our time in buildings, real estate is an interesting sector and what we can do is position the industry in relation to the impact a building can in terms of sustainability while also considering the quality of life of the people living in them.”

Job Gibson, Head of Sustainability at Avison Young, went on to explain: “If we want to reach the Net Zero 2050, the government needs to set regulations for innovation and technology. This is a massive industry that needs to be incentivised by regulations.”

Read more about the conference.