There is an overwhelming majority of climate scientists who contend humans are causing climate change. The construction and maintenance of buildings and other structures is responsible for around half of UK carbon dioxide emissions. Here, I am pleased to set out British Land's position on climate change.
What is happening?
A 2013 peer review found that 97% of scientific papers produced between 1991 and 2011 agreed climate change is man-made.
A Populus survey in November 2014 found that 80% of the UK public did not think action to tackle climate change could be delayed.
In the past decade, there has been a significant increase in climate related legislation.
From local authorities to occupiers, and increasingly investors, acknowledgement of climate change and action to reduce its impact are both expected and respected.
What does this mean for us?
Commercial: Our actions against climate change can improve our financial returns by generating income from on-site power generation, reducing occupancy costs from energy reductions and potentially by cutting construction costs from reducing embodied carbon.
Risk: The scientific evidence suggests we should future proof our assets against more frequent severe weather events and particularly protect against flooding and hotter summers.
Integrity: We do what is right not what is easy. As long as there is a realistic chance that climate change is the result of human action, then we need to take sensible steps to protect and enhance our planet and environment.
Regulation: The UK Government aims to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. Since 2009, it has been legislating to drive reductions in the built environment. In the face of this legislation we have always remained one step ahead to give our assets competitive advantage.
Preference: Action on climate change can help increase our appeal with investors by protecting value and generating income, for occupiers by reducing costs and aligning with their own sustainability goals and for Government by supporting its emission reduction targets.
Leadership: We are seen as the leader in the sector in the UK and a leader globally for our environmental achievements. This leadership has enhanced our reputation.
What do we do as a result of this?
We recognise the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to accelerated climate change.
We take action to future proof our assets against the impact of climate change:
Protecting value by reducing flood risks.
Reducing occupational costs through energy efficiency.
Increasing on-site energy generation.
Preparing for resource constraints and regulation through materials and process innovation.
Wherever possible, we enable our occupiers to be more resilient to climate change.
We work with Government to support the development of climate change policies. We particularly support consistency in policy making, which provides greater certainty and clarity for the long term enabling industry to react more effectively to legislative changes.
We also work with our peers to influence best practice in the industry as a whole, participating in initiatives with the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), the British Property Federation (BPF), the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) and the UK Green Building Council (UK GBC).
Acknowledging that our policy is based on scientific evidence, we keep this evidence under review.
This text was initially published on British Land's website here.
Head of Sustainability, British Land