Grosvenor Britain & Ireland Takes a Lead on Sustainability

09/09/2019

To accelerate positive change and achieve Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s challenging new sustainability goals by 2030, the company’s senior leaders have completed sustainability leadership training and taken on personal responsibility for sustainability. The business has also launched a Supply Chain Charter for partners to help fundamentally change the way its buildings and public realm are designed, constructed and operated.

Goals to achieve net zero carbon, eradicate waste and value nature

33 senior leaders and colleagues trained in sustainability leadership

Supply Chain Charter launched for 1,800 partners

Situation

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland creates and manages high quality neighbourhoods that are great places to live, work and visit. Its diverse property development, management and investment portfolio includes Grosvenor’s London estate of Mayfair and Belgravia and other developments in London, Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Building on its long history of social and environmental contributions, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland published a series of bold new sustainability goals in 2019. These include:

  • Net zero carbon operational emissions by 2030 from all directly managed buildings, including listed buildings[i], alongside reducing carbon emissions in its supply chain, development and occupier activity.
  • Eradicating waste from buildings and developments in its control by 2030 and working with customers and stakeholders to eradicate waste from communities where it operates by 2050.
  • Valuing nature, with its standing portfolio and largest development sites achieving a significant net biodiversity gain by 2030, contributing to local, regional and national conservation priorities.
  • Bringing partners with them: through collaboration, innovation and supportive networks, all strategic suppliers must meet its Supply Chain Charter minimum standards.

As many of the tools and technologies required to achieve these goals are yet to be developed and tested, behavioural change and innovation need to be accelerated across Grosvenor Britain & Ireland and amongst its supply chain partners. The sustainability team therefore organised a bespoke training programme for senior leaders to drive change in every aspect of the business and launched a Supply Chain Charter for partners.

Actions

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s sustainability team worked closely with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership to create a course enhancing its leadership team’s ability to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit. The two-day programme, which was sponsored by the CEO, in January 2019, was attended by all senior leaders.

The programme was designed to provide delegates with:

  • A holistic understanding of sustainability and why business as usual is not acceptable.
  • Awareness of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s 2030 and 2050 sustainability goals.
  • An understanding of why culture change and innovation will be critical to achieving Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s strategic plan.
  • The platform to develop personal commitments to advance sustainability and achieve lasting culture change.

The course started with a holistic overview of sustainability and why the property sector, and Grosvenor in particular, must be more ambitious in this space. Delegates explored how real estate can impact on the future state of the world and how Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s sustainability goals can support positive progress towards this changing state and the business purpose. Day two provided a platform for innovation and culture change to drive the changes needed. Delegates evaluated their roles as leaders in achieving this desired state and created three personal commitments to lead this change. Examples include: eating far less meat; sharing their new found knowledge with their team; and challenging their teams to act more sustainably in both their personal and professional lives.

Alongside the publication of its new sustainability goals in May 2019, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland also launched a Supply Chain Charter, which commits the business and its suppliers to higher environmental and ethical standards. These include:

  • Designing, constructing, refurbishing and maintaining buildings to ensure climate resilience, best practice for green space and water conservation, and high standards of indoor air quality for occupiers.
  • Operating and servicing facilities to deliver year-on-year improvements in carbon and energy intensity.
  • Prioritising retention of existing fabric and structure.
  • Presumption in favour of sustainably sourced materials in design and procurement.
  • Committing to prompt and fair payment of their own supply chain.
  • Helping create inclusive and equitable opportunities for employment in the communities in which Grosvenor Britain & Ireland operates.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has more than 1,800 suppliers and will expect all to adhere to, and cascade, relevant Charter commitments. The business is working with its partners and has established a supporting network of expert organisations who provide advice to partners at no additional cost to help them achieve the Charter’s aims.

Resources

  • Support for a bespoke leadership training programme, excluding accommodation and venue fees.
  • Everyone in the business has the mandate to be a sustainability champion, creating a business wide sustainability team. This is emphasised through our team goals which are business wide and linked to remuneration. 
  • 10-year sustainability investment plan to help guide investment to key business areas to achieve the goals.
  • Gap analysis for all development projects, including financial analysis on the cost to achieve the goals assessed against benefits for the lifecycle of the development.
  • Ongoing sustainability advisory support to further integrate sustainability into the business, including learning and development resources and consultancy advice for development projects.
  • Sponsorship of industry initiatives and events that help achieve the goals.

Benefits

  • Driving progress on Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s sustainability goals, which are critical to achieving Grosvenor’s purpose to improve properties and places to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit.
  • Supporting local, national and global efforts to halt the worsening impacts of climate change and restore ecosystems.
  • Providing a partnership approach whereby Grosvenor Britain & Ireland works with customers, suppliers and stakeholders to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit to help accelerate the pace of change.  
  • Developing new business opportunities and attracting new funding to help support the goals and stimulate innovation.

[i] A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources and offsets. Grosvenor Britain & Ireland will only use offsets as the last option once all other avenues for reducing emissions have been explored. Grosvenor has c1,500 listed buildings on its London estate, of which approximately a third are directly managed.

Challenges & Achievements

MOMENTUM

How to build on the energy after sustainability leadership training?

After the leadership course, the Chief Executive wrote to senior leaders on next steps and addressed the whole company on sustainability challenges and goals. Senior leaders agreed to take on personal leadership for sustainability and shared insights from the course with their teams. A new Sustainability Steering Group reviews sustainability plans on behalf of the Executive team, presenting them with a consolidated picture of plans across the business. Senior leaders have been invited to Sustainability Steering Group sessions to present their personal and team sustainability goals and plans. A new sustainability curriculum group, comprising people from across the business, is also developing skills on emerging trends and best practice, sharing learnings with the rest of the business.

SUPPLIERS

How to drive progress across a complex supply chain?

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland shared early drafts of the Supply Chain Charter with key suppliers. Charter commitments are being embedded into new consultant appointments and the Charter is discussed in supplier meetings. Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has also invested in resources to support supplier partners. The Supply Chain Sustainability School offers suppliers free training on sustainability, off-site construction and management techniques designed to embed change. Grosvenor Britain & Ireland also retains consultants to advise suppliers on the most effective means of delivering social value and is working with property sector peers to grow a network of resources to make it easier for suppliers to access local supplies, workers and apprentices, as well as organisations that support unemployed people back to work.

“Our world is experiencing a climate and ecological emergency. Companies need to have a wholesale rethink on how they use their influence to halt the worsening impacts of climate change and restore ecosystems. As one of London’s largest property companies and with a growing business bringing forward large-scale housing developments, we recognise the far-reaching impact a change in our behaviour can have. To be successful and accelerate positive change, we need to work collaboratively and innovate. This is a time for bold leadership.”

Craig McWilliam, Chief Executive of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland