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Pressure from all stakeholders makes sustainability a focus

The push to make cities and building sustainable is coming from all stakeholders and this represents a significant positive change, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Investing in Cities with Purpose – Creating Net Zero Urban Centres briefing, which was held online on REALX.Global this week.

Paul Hicks, investment manager, Fabrix Capital

“The pressure is not just from regulators or local authorities but from tenants as well, especially in workplaces, which we specialise in,” said Paul Hicks, investment manager, Fabrix Capital. “Larger organisations as well as smaller companies need to offer employees good quality spaces that are better than working from home.”

For occupiers of the space, the quality of the building, a healthy environment and access to clean air and green spaces have become a clear focus. Employers and landlords must take note.

“We see pressure from investors in our funds but also from our tenants, in both offices and residential,” said Siena Golan, property market research, DWS. “We want to achieve 50% reduction in all our offices by 2050 and it’s important to communicate our goals to all our stakeholders”.

Companies must not just do better but also be seen to be doing better. Communication is as important as delivery.

Institutions’ ambition puts pressure on asset managers

“We have a 2040 target for zero emissions, which is ambitious,” said Abigail Dean, global head of strategic insights, Nuveen. “But I am optimistic because governments are stepping up their efforts and because I see the scale of ambition of institutional investors, who are putting pressure on asset managers to deliver.”

The pandemic has highlighted the links between health, social and environmental issues.

“It is not a narrow focus on the environment because it’s all interconnected and improving people’s quality of life is crucial,” said Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive, UK Green Building Council. “You need the proper metrics in place to track progress. Every place has specific challenges. In London we identified 110 indicators which are not the same as in other cities.”

Cities’ masterplans and environmental targets must meet the needs of local communities.

“In the end it’s all about making people’s lives and their surroundings better,” said John Alexander, leader, Dundee City Council. “It’s about creating the best possible places for people to live.”

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