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Fri May 27 2022

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Report makes case for investing in sustainability

5 Nov 21 A report launched at COP26 by the World Green Building Council (World GBC) says that the sector can’t afford not to invest in sustainability.

The cover of the report
The cover of the report

WorldGBC, a global network that aims to accelerate sustainability and decarbonisation in the building and construction sector, aims to drive investment in a sustainable built environment through its report ‘Beyond the Business Case’, which was launched yesterday at COP26 in Glasgow.

This report has been developed by the WorldGBC global network, with collaboration and support from a development task force including the Laudes Foundation, WSP, Johnson Controls, Buro Happold, Saint-Gobain, Mott Macdonald, Foster + Partners, Kingspan, SOM, CBRE, Lendlease, Institute for Human Rights and Business and member Green Building Councils around the world.

The report sets out ways that investing in a sustainable built environment brings both financial and social value. These are:

  • social benefits, to building occupants through health, productivity & wellbeing;
  • lower or equivalent costs at supply chain, construction, and operational phases;
  • risk mitigation, providing resilience to inevitable climate impacts, environmentally and financially, as well as future-proofing against legislative changes or corporate expectations and reputational risk;
  • higher asset values linked both to performance and asset desirability;
  • investment opportunities through a rapidly transitioning finance sector protecting investments, supporting share prices, and increasing requirements on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting;
  • access to finance due to availability of finance for green buildings, from banks, bonds and institutional investors.

WorldGBC said that all of these findings are supported by evidence-based research through innovative case studies which bolster both the current, and future, business case for a sustainable built environment.

A powerful and up to date business case is essential to drive investment into green, sustainable buildings, says the report. “With the built environment being responsible for 75% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and real estate alone accounting for 37%, plus 40-50% of global resources extraction, the critical requirement for enhancing sustainability in the sector is undeniably clear,” it says. “For the development of new buildings and the required upgrades of existing ones, the financial input will be monumental — new sustainable buildings alone are set to represent a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity in emerging markets alone by 2030, so tackling barriers to mass market engagement is essential.”

Beyond the Business Case also outlines reasons for the optimal economic opportunity from green assets, including greater access to investment, corporate reputation, higher asset value and investment resilience, lower build and operational costs and return on investment through occupant productivity.

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Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council, said: “As WorldGBC prepares for the dedicated Cities, Regions and Built Environment day at COP26, we recognise the need for a compelling value proposition for all actors across the global real estate sector, as well as the increasing importance of social value. People must be put at the heart of the business case, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to challenge us.

“Real estate alone accounts for 37% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, our report inspires urgency — but urgency with optimism. We champion an achievable transformation that brings future climate scenarios into today’s business decision making, demonstrating total clarity on why no business can afford not to embrace sustainability in real estate.”

David Symons, UK director of sustainability at WSP, said: “From zero carbon offices in London and climate-ready schools in Lagos, to well-ventilated homes in Vancouver and healthy hospitals in Victoria – the case for green, healthy buildings is clear across the world.

“COP26 provides the perfect opportunity to bring this business case for sustainability to the fore and WSP is delighted to have supported WorldGBC on its development. The future scenario modelling we undertook shows the impact climate change and health will have on real estate assets and why a sustainable built environment makes financial and ethical sense.”

James Drinkwater, head of built environment, Laudes Foundation, said: “To ensure our economy transforms at the speed we need it to, the narrative can’t focus on why protecting people and the planet is a ‘nice to have’ – it must be clear that any less is untenable. Laudes Foundation is proud to support this important new WorldGBC report, which establishes a bolder narrative around the need for transformation in the built environment.”

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