Cooperation rather than competition is the way forward on sustainability in real estate, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s MIPIM Investment Track: Key trends, ESG, Capital & European Investment Opportunities briefing, which took place at MIPIM this week.
“Climate change and social fairness are two of the biggest challenges we face and we should all lie awake at night worrying about them because we only have a few years to get it right,” said Brigit Gerritse, head of research and strategy, Redevco. “We believe we need to do it together, lead by example but make it open source, open the door and let everyone step through.”
The focus on sustainability and liveability coincides with economic performance, because soon assets that are not up to scratch will find no tenants and no buyers.
“We need to share ideas about the cities of the future, working together with local communities to create better places for people to live in,” said Gerritse. “Real estate is a social industry, because it’s about people and where they live. An asset or neighbourhood that is not sustainable does not have a future, so has no economic or financial value either.”
Change has been a long time coming, but it is now happening as more people in the sector come on board.
“We started late so now it’s really about damage control,” said Ron van Bloois, founder & CEO, Multiple Impact. “But it only works if it is not a competition but a collaboration.”
Cooperation is all the more essential as it is work in progress, no one has all the answers and new solutions are being found all the time, so it is important to learn from each other and compare notes.
The office sector has made huge strides thanks to a new mindset and to technology. “Now we can measure light, air and space and see how they affect people in the workplace,” said Adrian Karczewicz, head of divestments CEE, Skanska Commercial Development Europe. “Sensors are learning how people behave and data gathering allows us to improve assets. Sick buildings lead to sick people.”
The pandemic was a catastrophe that led us to put a higher value on health and wellbeing and we must make sure there is no turning back.
“Change usually happens under pressure and the social aspect has come to the fore,” said Alexander Grellier, CEO, Drooms. “We now have the capacity to gather data and data provide transparency, which is the key to moving forward in a positive way.”
The mindset has changed, said Sebastian Kreutel, director, PwC Germany: “There is definitely more willingness to participate, and institutional capital will only invest in ESG-compliant assets because they are more resilient.”
An awareness of the magnitude of the challenge should go alongside a determination to overcome the challenges.
Aiming high is not a bad thing if ambition leads to action, said Gerritse: “If Martin Luther King had made a ‘I have a nightmare’ speech no one would have listened. It is good to have a dream.”