A Quiet Revolution


It’s that time of year at the BBP, the end of a financial year and the start of a new programme of work. This is an important time to reflect upon what has been achieved, what was challenging and where the BBP can have the most impact in the future.

The concept of ‘Performance in use’ encapsulates much of what the BBP does and this year will be no exception. There are a range of projects underway that are all targeted at improving the performance of existing assets and led by the Sustainability Benchmarking Working Group, these include:

  • REEB – the BBP’s Real Estate Environmental Benchmark is quickly establishing itself as the performance in use benchmark. This is a watershed year for REEB, with 5 years of data covering over 1,000 assets, we will be reflecting on how (much) performance has improved and looking forward to a new era for REEB, working with EnergyDeck to develop the dataset and expand participation beyond BBP members.
  • To accompany this, we will be focusing on refining a methodology for long-term target setting that has been developed by BBP members and expert advisors. Long-term target setting enables us to look beyond the financial and business planning cycles to set targets based on where we need to be in the long-term rather than where we can get to in the short term.
  • Design for Performance – this market-leading project supported by the BBP is moving into its pilot phase this year. Numerous projects will be piloting the implementation of a ‘Commitment Agreement’ to see if the UK can emulate the success of the Australian market and NABERS in working towards a ‘design for performance’ culture.

The foot-soldiers of sustainability are undoubtedly those who manage large portfolios of existing buildings and this year the BBP will be seeking to address a number of challenges that the industry faces:

  • The Property Management Working Group will be setting out the best practice standards that they will require in the management of their portfolios, especially in relation to the reporting of data.
  • At the same time the BBP Managing Agents Partnership will be publishing a set of core provisions for inclusion in their contracts with all clients, thereby raising standards across the industry. To accompany this, a series of Industry Insights on issues including energy and waste will be published, followed by an update of the BBP Managing Agents Sustainability Toolkit to provide the practical ‘back-up’ for those with the responsibility for implementation.

If the property managers are the foot soldiers, then investors, advisors and fund managers are the commanders - the investment decision-making process is a critical driver of change. This year we will be working with our Investor Engagement and Commercial Real Estate Lending Working Groups to identify the key intervention points in the investment process and the practical tools and training that can be developed to support this part of the industry

The work of the Occupier Engagement Working Group will culminate in the publication of the BBP Sustainable Fit-out Toolkit and will also revisit the Green Lease Toolkit, one of the BBP’s most successful tools, which will be updated to reflect changes in policy such as the introduction of MEES and highlight case studies of Green Leases in practice. The Buildings Operations & Technology Working Group have a busy meeting schedule looking at a wide range of future trends and technological innovations and the Heritage Buildings Working Group will be focusing on bridging the ‘performance gap’ between new and heritage buildings.

It’s a packed programme of work and we rely on BBP members as leaders within the industry to help deliver it. We will also continue to engage with a wide range of organisations and stakeholders to avoid duplication and lend the weight of the BBP membership to other initiatives. All of the work that the BBP does is shared with the wider industry, so if you haven’t already, do take a look at the BBP website, which is full of useful resources and case studies to help provide real evidence of sustainability in practice.

In the world of real estate, it’s often the shiny new developments that gain all the accolades, the policies (or lack of them) that create all the news and the latest technology that is promoted as the panacea to all sustainability ills.

Meanwhile, at the BBP we will quietly get on with our job of supporting our members in improving the sustainability performance of the £180bn of assets under their management. We will dig behind the accolades to focus on the actual performance of buildings, we will work hard to understand how our members can effectively implement policy (or develop market-based solutions in its absence) and our members will test the latest technologies to see what works and what doesn’t. And, we will continue to share all of this with the wider industry.

Leadership takes many forms. The BBP and its members are at the forefront of a quiet revolution.