The Importance of Sustainability in Real Estate

Louise Clarke Group Head of Sustainability - Berkeley Group and Adam Demetriou, Director - Berkeley MEA & India, believe that embracing sustainability in property development should be mutually beneficial for residents, investors and stakeholders
Louise Clarke and Adam Demetriou | UAE | Facilities Management

As one of the largest industries in the world, real estate’s influence on the environment and society has always been substantial. Sustainability and social responsibility are now shaping the decisions and strategies of property developers around the world. In this context, Berkeley Group, a prominent developer of quality homes and neighbourhoods across London, Birmingham, and the South of England, distinguishes itself as a leader in sustainable property development, taking multiple approaches to ensure that new developments add to communities, nature, and the property market as a whole.

Leveraging Sustainable Practices in Property Development

One of the key factors driving the demand for sustainable properties is the long-term value it offers, which extends beyond protecting the environment. Embracing sustainability can have numerous advantages for residents, investors, and other stakeholders. Developing buildings that meet industry standards for sustainability can lower operational costs, as those properties are designed to consume resources more efficiently, from water and heating to electricity and more. For residents, living in homes that have high sustainability ratings can result in more resilient communities by adopting clean energy and other sustainable practices, and they can even add to the natural beauty of a space by improving biodiversity. 

A Multi-Approach Towards Sustainability

Real estate developers often adopt different approaches towards sustainability, which depend on their size, location, and speciality. Tackling climate change is among the most important approaches and new measures are being implemented to reduce carbon emissions, such as incorporating low-carbon technologies and using renewable energy sources on construction sites. Preserving nature, in contrast, may require following different approaches, such as promoting biodiversity by delivering welcoming public spaces and achieving water neutrality at a project scale by retrofitting water-saving devices.

Resident-focussed developers prioritise creating healthier communities, such as rebuilding unloved and underused spaces. Some property companies are also taking additional steps to reduce waste, such as implementing waste monitoring software and reusing construction materials, which can have a tremendous effect on the environment. In recent years, the increasing focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has driven positive change. According to a JLL survey, 83% of senior executives in the real estate industry are now looking at ways to innovate and accelerate their sustainability strategies as they see it as paramount to the long-term success of their company. 

Adopting Sustainable Practices 

Berkeley Group has always been a leader in embracing new sustainability approaches to build quality homes, strengthen communities and make a positive difference in people’s lives. Taking new steps to fight climate change and protect the environment is at the heart of its business strategy and the way we develop new properties.

The group has a clear sustainability strategy and is aligned with science-based targets to cut carbon emissions. Our core belief is that new real estate developments should add to nature instead of taking away from it. In 2016, Berkeley Group became the first homebuilder to commit to measurably increasing biodiversity on every new site developed. Today, we are actively exploring new sustainability approaches while supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the same time.

The Future of Sustainable Properties 

The increased interest in property sustainability has been driven by both the private and public sectors. The private sector, comprising property developers, is always exploring new ways to be more sustainable and cut emissions, which can encourage other developers to follow the same path and help make an industry-wide shift. Many governments around the world are also supporting this transition and regulatory standards are rising.

With more companies embracing a more responsible approach in their operations, the process of measuring the sustainability of businesses has become more important. Having a more streamlined process and reporting on sustainability can provide more transparency to investors, buyers, and other stakeholders. By forging clear and consistent policies for the environment and community, all stakeholders can cultivate a collective commitment to a more sustainable and accountable future.

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