Unity Real Estate – Sustainability journey

Greengage calculated the baseline and delivered tailored recommendations for Unity Real Estate’s ESG and net zero strategy to help map their sustainability plan.

Unity Group is a London-based private investment group operating in shipping and real estate. Unity Real Estate invests in, develops and manages a prime, central London-based portfolio with a focus on sustainability.

Greengage was commissioned by Unity Real Estate to assess the organisation’s exposure to legislative risk and suggest an implementation plan to avoid the risk, calculate the carbon baseline and set a net zero target in alignment with the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). This was followed by a net zero transition strategy to identify actions to help reach net zero and finally, an ESG strategy was developed to support Unity’s business objectives and identify key environmental, social and governance issues material to Unity’s stakeholder interest.

Legislative compliance

Greengage conducted an ESG compliance review of Unity’s central London portfolio from an environmental, legal, operational and reputational perspective. A review of operational activities across the office, business activities and portfolio was conducted by speaking with the relevant members of the team to identify key areas of environmental risk, accompanied by a detailed site audit for a representative asset. This asset and organisational level analysis helped identify potential areas of risk and suggest actions and next steps to manage risk, as well as embed a sustainable approach in the business activities. A detailed analysis of the current approach, legislative requirements, risk associated and suggested improvements was provided.

Carbon baselining and SBTi alignment

Following the analysis of Unity Real Estate’s data across FY 2019/20-2022/23, Greengage established FY 2022-2023 to be the most appropriate baseline year. All calculations were carried out in line with the GHG Protocol standards and guidelines for carbon reporting. Support was provided to establish their reporting boundary and for data collection and analysis, ensuring data accuracy and completeness as per the established reporting boundary. The gaps in data were filled using industry benchmarks and the baseline was established. Visibility of the annual carbon footprints for four years helped identify key focus areas for emissions reductions and support in decision-making.

Guidance was provided regarding potential offsetting, prioritising on-site renewable energy and investigating investment opportunities for off-site renewables. It was emphasised that the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) does not allow offsetting until the last year of reaching the net zero ambition (i.e. 2049), which can be achieved through the utilisation of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

A report outlining carbon footprint findings, methodology, approach and key recommendations was provided, along with a workshop to discuss key findings of the carbon footprint assessment including emissions calculated, recommendations and the next steps, to guide informed decision-making.

Net zero transition strategy

Greengage developed a list of recommendations to help Unity reach its net zero targets through a series of interviews with the management team, to understand the operations of the assets and the organisation. The interviews focused on key areas like governance, facilities management, building operations, energy procurement, transport and retrofit strategies.

A list of opportunities was identified to aid Unity’s transition to net zero. The net zero strategy followed the net zero carbon hierarchy, prioritising the reduction of the energy demand to the sectoral target levels and ensuring that it can be met by the national grid, while the residual demand can be met by renewables. The measures were categorised by Scope and rated by a timeframe priority and a bespoke Red Amber Green (RAG) rating system.

ESG strategy

Greengage developed an ESG strategy for Unity Real Estate, considering the wider stakeholder expectations and expected changes within market conditions to ensure they maintain a competitive edge over their peers.

A materiality assessment was conducted to identify Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues that have an impact on Unity Real Estate, along with a peer analysis, policy gap review and identification of policies that must be included. A stakeholder consultation was conducted to understand the expectations and aspirations. A final report was presented to Unity Real Estate with the methodology and approach, findings of the regulatory review, peer review and stakeholder engagement, and a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) materiality matrix. The recommendations for the ESG strategy were outlined, along with the relevant UNSDGs addressed and the suggestions for implementation.

Testimonial

” Unity recognises the importance of creating a sustainable future. Greengage has expertly conducted a carbon baseline exercise and legislative risk review. They have provided tailored recommendations for the net zero and ESG strategy to map out our sustainability plan, Unity’s “Green Plan.” We were delighted to work with Greengage to launch our sustainability journey.”

Lisa Jordan, Director of Real Estate, Unity Real Estate

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