Visions for a Net Zero Future
Updated: Jun 9
Sustainability leaders in the built environment discuss their goals for a net zero future. This discussion took place at BWT UK with our IMPACT Tribe, hosted by Irena Badelska, Senior Executive in Measurabl’s Business Development Europe team.
Abigail Dean, Head of Sustainability, Nuveen Real Estate, begins by saying they have set a goal to be net zero carbon by 2040 throughout their extensive global portfolio, 10 years ahead of the World Green Building Council (WGBC’s) deadline, allowing them flexibility for different sectors and markets to go at different paces.
The aim is to be compliant with the prevailing market understanding of what net zero carbon means in different regions. Nuveen have a broad framework to work from, as well as utilising the WGBC, Advancing Net Zero, and CRREM Pathways. “In the meantime, we are setting aggressive goals to improve the energy efficiency of the real estate we’re invested in,” Dean continues. “We’re actively engaging with our partners and our supply chain around how to incorporate a pathway towards net zero carbon into all of our real estate investment strategies”.
“We’re actively engaging with our partners and our supply chain around how to incorporate a pathway towards net zero carbon into all of our real estate investment strategies”.
Louise Ellison, Group Head of Sustainability, Hammerson, says they set targets to be net positive for a number of areas, including carbon emissions, by 2030. As a Propco with a smaller portfolio than Nuveen, Hammerson is able to work with these shorter trajectories.
Ellison adds that Hammerson jointly own many of their assets, including one of their biggest assets being jointly owned with Nuveen. “We work very closely with our JV partners on establishing these trajectories for them,” she says, noting the focus on energy efficiency as the material driver of carbon emissions from their portfolio and the place where they can make the biggest change. This includes active day-to-day asset management and investment in technology to improve efficiency where possible.
Olaide Oboh, Director of Partnerships, First Base, says that as a mixed-use developer working in major UK towns and cities, they have also made bold commitments to being net zero, not only in the way they operate their business, but also in delivered projects.
She says First Base’s principles are to deliver mixed-use to maximise urban centre land use; and to retain and refurbish or repurpose buildings to make use of all their embodied carbon. “We do not build anything new that is powered by gas or emissions,” Oboh continues.
“We do not build anything new that is powered by gas or emissions,”
As a result, most of their schemes are either car-free, or allow only electric cars and bikes, while they are also working with other companies on collective autonomous electric vehicles, and electric-powered drone deliveries. Finally, First Base aims to significantly increase biodiversity in dense urban areas by supporting town centre rewilding as another key principle.
Sam Monger, Director, Special Projects, Grosvenor, says their goal is to get to net zero by 2030 and net positive by 2050. “We’re aiming for a 52% reduction in our total emissions over the next decade,” Monger reveals.
“We’re aiming for a 52% reduction in our total emissions over the next decade,” Monger reveals.
This is based on removing carbon emissions from their supply chain, reducing carbon emissions and energy use in their historic London estates in Mayfair and Belgravia, and reducing the embodied carbon in constructions.
Robert Whitton, CEO, Impact Capital Group, explains that as a new business they have no worries about legacy issues or repurposing an existing portfolio. Impact is an end-to-end integrated platform aimed at developing, delivering, and operating properties, including in partnership with housing associations and local authorities. “For us, the purpose is really to be part of this forward-thinking, global movement,” Whitton relates".
“For us, the purpose is really to be part of this forward-thinking, global movement,” Whitton relates.
He believes the property sector is starting to respond well to challenges like climate change, public health and wellness, and the British housing crisis, asserting, “We need to embrace technology in the design and manufacture of new buildings… we believe in a sustainable approach to place-making.”
Impact are currently developing their zero-carbon housing range, which will be an open source digital design book to development partners. Technology is providing possibilities to deliver quality, affordable social housing, as Whitton notes, “we believe that digitalisation and industrialisation will help to meet decarbonisation of housing.”.
“We believe that digitalisation and industrialisation will help to meet decarbonisation of housing.”
Lloyd Lee, Managing Partner, Yoo Capital, says that because they specialise in central London, their aim is to make a massive dent in highly specific investments. “The longer-term impact of (this) is about creating a culture and an approach to how major destinations are delivered and then managed going forward, so the community starts to see that it can be done.”
“The longer-term impact of (this) is about creating a culture and an approach to how major destinations are delivered and then managed going forward, so the community starts to see that it can be done.”
Lee explains. Yoo Capital makes a lot of investments near existing public transport, as the movement of people is very environmentally costly.
“What you need to do is make the most out of those transport nodes,” says Lee, adding that how you physically deliver properties also makes a big difference. Having a dedicated manufacturing facility off-site, for example, drastically reduces the number of workers moving back and forth, helping to maximise efficiency.
Catch the full conversation below On-Demand via video, exploring how technology is being used to achieve goals related to operational and embodied carbon.
P.s. Join our IMPACT Tribe at 'SPACE [UK Tribes]' on 8 July at The Binary, SE1, to discuss sustainability, social impact and responsible growth. Find out more.