The Green Future of Real Estate: Sustainability and ESG investing
Sustainability is at the forefront of our society and is the key to ensuring a better future. So how can this be discussed within the real estate sector? What role does the sector play? And what can be done to improve this? Read on to find the answers to these questions as well as learning more about sustainability and ESG investing within real estate.
Why should we make the real estate industry more sustainable?
As one of the top contributors to global carbon emissions, the real estate industry is responsible for 38% and with the urgency of climate change, something needs to be done. According to the Deloitte Global 2021 Millenial and Gen Z Survey, climate change is one of the largest concerns of the Millenial generation.
So, not only is it affecting our current society but these issues of sustainability are important for our future generations. More and more companies are trying to implement measures to ensure we are collectively moving towards a joint sustainable future.
The real estate sector has always been a particularly traditional sector but in recent years, it has had to adapt to the demands of our society. Accelerated by the pandemic, the digitalisation of the real estate sector is more prevalent than ever and this welcomes a more sustainable approach to the industry.
Let's highlight how we, at Floorfy, are contributing to this future.
How is Floorfy sustainable?
Whilst a large portion of carbon emissions are accredited to the actual building of properties, we can still play a role in combatting this issue. Our software that creates 3D virtual tours of properties, combined with our video-calling system, helps to simulate the experience of a physical visit to a property, from the comfort of your own home or office. Think about the fuel consumption saved on a global scale and, in turn, directly decreasing carbon emissions.
The benefits are countless, and besides the environmental impact, we are catering towards people's busy schedules; an important social aspect. Our tours will be accessible 24 hours a day, wherever you are in the world and as you are not constrained to tight schedules of agents, there is complete flexibility. Ultimately, we are reducing in-person visits by 70%; saving time and energy.
What is ESG investing? Why is it important?
Environmental, social and governance investing, widely known as ESG investing, is essentially a structure made to analyse how a commercial real estate portfolio can capitalise on opportunities or mitigate risks created by internal and external changes of the market. To put it simply, it's how companies can react to the ever-changing climate of the market, taking into account environmental, social and managerial aspects.
There is definitely an increased appetite for ESG investing and many large companies have been outspoken about its significance. Although, critics say there needs to be tighter regulations to differentiate which ESG investments are actively de-carbonising the markets from those who are only claiming that they are.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't feel disillusioned by the fact that ESG is a positive approach and should be at the forefront of financial markets. Globally, sustainable investment funds doubled to $54.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first. It should also be mentioned that industry leaders such as Blackstone, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs have recognised the importance of ESG in assessing their future investments.
What other ways can the real estate sector become more sustainable?
Aside from ESG investment prospects, the real estate sector can do many things to improve their levels of sustainability through different initiatives. These include:
Energy conscious solutions. A significant step in the right direction is finding a baseline for energy efficiency. This includes use of smart meters, switching to LED lighting and using lighting sensors. These are not only more environmentally friendly solutions but also give incentive to potential tenants and buyers, as they instantly imply saving of cost.
Greener selection of materials. This goes hand in hand with energy efficiency - making properties more sustainable by building with more eco-friendly materials, with less fuel consumption and more water conservation. Understandably such materials have a higher cost, but in turn, more ecological properties can be sold at a premium price.
Innovative design and technology. The future of real estate relies on the digitalisation of the sector and countless new innovations in processes and their designs. Like how the use of solar energy in a property can reduce costs and the carbon footprint or how the development of new materials and processes can reduce costs and/or time of construction.
A Green Future
After a 2021 in which the industries with the highest contribution to carbon emissions were shut down, for the first time ever, unimaginable ecological indices were recovered, e.g. an ozone layer recovered by 7%, and a decrease in air pollution indices of major cities. Society has been able to see how together with technology, it is possible to create a sustainable future, and will be more reluctant to make future decisions that negatively affect our environment.