Major property owners agree on the need for rapid de-carbonisation of the built environment


At a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Better Buildings Partnership, major property owners made clear their willingness to work collectively to accelerate progress in de-carbonising the UK’s built environment and deliver on the ultimate goal of zero carbon buildings.

The dinner, attended by 18 CEOs, CIOs and Directors from the BBP membership representing over £220bn AUM in the UK, was convened by David Atkins (CEO, Hammerson) and Alan Tripp (Head of UK Business LaSalle). The BBP membership heard a keynote speech from Professor Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at UCL. This highlighted the urgent action required to mitigate climate change and to adapt to the impacts already being seen.  Following this, fund managers and property companies discussed the actions that the real estate sector needs to take, highlighting the need for:

  • Clear long-term targets from all industry stakeholders based on the Paris commitment to keep within 1.5 degrees. The leading players also agreed that the ultimate aim must be to achieve a zero carbon-built environment. Those attending emphasised the need for these ambitious long-term targets to be supported by short term, meaningful goals that engage business teams in immediate action and can be used to reward and incentivise efforts to keep to this pathway.
  • Performance disclosure to enable the market to respond and drive action. The need for clarity and consistency were emphasised and investor demand for meaningful performance data was highlighted. Members also called attention to the important role of industry-wide benchmarks to enable comparison, with the BBP’s Real Estate Environment Benchmark acknowledged as a key benchmark for property owners.
  • Engagement with occupiers to ensure the whole building is addressed. With property owners having only partial influence, owners made it clear that this has to be a collective effort if the performance of the whole building is to be transformed.
  • Strong Leadership to establish climate change as a strategic business priority, backed up with clear accountability and action that embeds climate change targets within the business, emphasising that ‘every action counts’. 

Far from climate change being viewed only as a risk, the senior leaders gathered identified this as an opportunity for the sector to create economic activity through the development of resilient low carbon assets, to drive innovation, to attract occupiers and to open up new markets for investment in real estate.

Commenting on the evening, Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO of the Better Buildings Partnership said “On the 10th anniversary of the BBP, it is only right that we ask what progress has been made towards the BBP’s objective of improving the sustainability performance of our members assets. At this important gathering of industry leaders, it is clear that progress is being made, but that incremental advances are no longer sufficient to address the challenge of keeping within 1.5 degrees. BBP members are to be applauded for acknowledging the need for the industry to commit to more challenging targets. We will be working with our members to encourage the collaborative commitments and action that will be required to drive market transformation throughout the real estate market.

The dinner was attended by 18 CEOs, CIOS and Directors accompanied by 3 sustainability representatives from the following companies:

  • Aberdeen Standard Investments
  • Aviva Investors
  • British Land
  • Bruntwood
  • Canary Wharf Group
  • CLS Holdings
  • The Crown Estate
  • DWS Group
  • Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
  • Hammerson
  • Hermes Investment Management
  • LaSalle Investment Management
  • Lendlease
  • Legal & General IM Real Assets
  • Low Carbon Workplace
  • M&G Real Estate
  • Norges Bank
  • Nuveen Real Estate
  • Schroders
  • Shaftesbury
  • Transport for London