World Green Building Week, the largest global campaign to champion sustainability in the built environment, is now underway with the wholehearted support of national real estate agency, Bayleys.
Organised by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) and led by its global network of 70 affiliate councils, the week highlights the role sustainable buildings play in building resilience in the face of climate change and the importance of these buildings for people and economies.
Lloyd Budd, Bayleys Auckland commercial and industrial director, said the resilience theme is gaining significant traction among its commercial landlords and occupiers, as climate change and sustainability principles gather momentum.
“There is heightened awareness around sustainability in the commercial and industrial sector and while many thought that the pandemic could take the focus off environmental issues and challenges, the reverse is actually happening,” said Budd.
“Increasingly, investor stakeholders and tenant clients are saying they want accountability and good governance around green ratings from building owners, and the New Zealand government mandated last year that all buildings its agencies occupy must have a certified and verified sustainability rating.
“Given that the built environment is responsible for 38 percent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50 percent of all extracted materials, the movement towards greater transparency and the need for developers and building owners to be onboard the resilience train is escalating.”
WorldGBC said by 2050, the world’s building stock will double, increasing the impact that the built environment sector has on natural resources, climate change, and people’s livelihoods.
Budd said investor capital is actively seeking out green investments and they’re clued-in to the benefits that this can bring to operational bottom lines and the attraction/retention of quality tenants .
“In signing-off new building investment proposals and acquisitions, boards and stakeholders of publicly-listed clients are being very specific about what they want and expect, in-line with global thinking around climate change, the environment and social responsibility,” he said.
“These directives are coming from all segments of the commercial market and across all asset classes.
“The office sector led the way, closely followed by retail but now hotels, hospitality, hospitals, public/Council amenities and even industrial developments are on the resilience and green train.”
Budd said in conversations today around building resilience, sustainability is “the new seismic”.
“Post-earthquake events in New Zealand 10 years ago, owners and occupiers of commercial property are completely up-to-speed with required physical strengthening thresholds and ratings.
“Today, discussion and focus turns to NABERSNZ and Green Star ratings with growing acceptance for getting the sustainability principles and goals of all parties aligned.”
Stuart Bent, Bayleys’ national director of property management services, concurs and said in many instances, landlords need to get in-step with occupiers who are increasing well-educated and driven by sustainability aspirations and seeking green leases.
“Climate change is firmly on the global agenda and there is still a big iceberg of unchanged mindset around incorporating a broad spectrum of resilience into the property equation – particularly for owners of existing commercial stock,” he said.
“The big players in the sector accept that expectations have risen and, in response to stakeholder demands, are devoting chapters within their annual reports to sustainability recognising that investment will only come if good sustainability principles are demonstrated.
“The emphasis here is on ‘demonstrated’ and as is to be expected with new thinking, in some cases the “talk’ is outpacing the ‘walk’.”
As a full-service real estate agency, Bent said education around sustainability, resilience and accountability are part of Bayleys’ service offering to clients and as property/facility managers, said it is encouraging to see the uptake of green accreditation.
“Eight very large commercial and industrial properties we manage have NABERSNZ ratings, with seven of these in institutional ownership and one in iwi hands,” he said.
“Bayleys’ corporate head office occupies a NABERSNZ 4.5 Star-rated building and there is a mutual understanding between landlord and occupier of the benefits this has.
“For smaller building owners, there is still the headwind of perceived costs of assessments and reporting mechanisms versus the financial benefits.
“There remains a tug of war between economics and responsibility and there needs to be more exchange of information to get proactive sustainability matters on the table.
“However, awareness around the potential vacancy exposure that could result from inaction on the sustainability front, is starting to drive change.”
Bent said the calls for action being heard from occupiers is getting louder and the sustainability and resilience focus will need to be a shared responsibility.
“Bayleys supports and encourages discussion and action with even the first steps towards greater energy efficiencies being a step in the right direction.
“We can start by helping to identify where the gaps are, for example, collecting energy, waste and water data to highlight consumption indicators that could be tweaked to unlock big savings in utilities and in turn, savings to the running costs of a building.”
World Green Building Week runs from 20-24th September.