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Expo Real: Logistics developers have to make hard choices

Logistics developers are flying blind, as they have to make decisions without knowing what lies ahead, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Sustainable Logistics briefing, which took place this week in the International Investors’ Lounge at Expo Real in Munich.

Robert Jędrzejowski.

“We have to make choices on capex and long-term programmes without actually knowing what the requirements will be,” said Edward Bates, president & CEO, Stam Europe.

Everyone expects environmental regulations to get tougher, but there is no clarity as to when and how. At present companies find it difficult to even show how they have reduced their emissions.

“There isn’t one regulation now in Europe,” said Emilia Dębowska, sustainability manager, Panattoni. “There’s just certification, but no common standards and no information on the materials. It is hard to find certified materials on the construction side.”

A lot of effort is going into finding greener alternatives to traditional materials, but there are problems of availability and issues with cost.

“There’s no real alternative to steel and cement at the moment, so we try to reduce the amounts of both,” said Robert Jędrzejowski, CEO, Pekabex Group. “We rely on automation and more efficient designs to use less steel, replace steel with a composite, use low emissions cement and use pre-stressed technology to replace traditional reinforcement.”

Building materials research and development now crucial

Technology helps and R&D in building materials science is crucial, but another important factor is sharing best practice and innovations to find the best solutions across the life-span of the building.

“Developers should cooperate to finance this effort,” said Jędrzejowski. “By investing we can find new solutions that cost the same or even less.”

As things stand now, though, cost is a problem as environment-friendlier solutions and materials tend to be more expensive.

“The real challenge is being climate-friendly but also effective and price-efficient,” said Jędrzejowski. “We cannot be hypocritical and pretend that cost is not an issue, because it always is. But sometimes you have to pay more in order to get results that are better for the environment.”

It is a difficult balancing act developers have to make to future-proof their buildings.

“You have to invest for the long term,” said Richard Wilkinson, CFO & Deputy CEO, CTP. “It is not an easy business model to choose, but real estate is a long-term business and sustainability of course is about the long term. In the end, it pays off.”