Greengage recently released “Green age” a future insights report that presented the findings from interviews with 60 leaders in sustainability across the built environment industry. Three industry leaders were invited to share their thoughts on the future of sustainability in a webinar hosted by Greengage.
To hear further insights from these industry leaders, watch the recording of the webinar here:
Sarah Ratcliffe from the Better Buildings Partnership, Richard Quartermaine from Urban & Civic, and Amrita Dasgupta Shekhar from Greengage Environmental Ltd answered questions on the biggest change in sustainability over the past five years, the challenges for exemplar sustainability to become the norm, and what’s the next big thing in sustainability.
The speakers identified a clear shift in the past five years from the ideas phase of sustainability towards the implementation and delivery phase and that it was now a part of the core business for most companies. They talked about the increased investor focus, a better understanding of the magnitude of capital risk of inaction, and the opportunities of sustainability regulation and cost.
One of the biggest changes identified was the mainstreaming process of sustainability, which is now everyone’s responsibility. As a result, there has been a greater investor focus on sustainability, specifically the risks and opportunities it can offer. The clear target that Net Zero represents for governments, industries and other industry stakeholders has led to significant and visible changes such as the first all-electric buildings, the increased use of green leases, and the development and application of industry standards.
Despite this visible progress, the speakers identified key barriers and challenges that the industry is currently facing such as the perceived vs real cost of sustainability for companies, which is hindering progress when it should be used as an opportunity. Data remains a hurdle for companies due to the uncertainty around credibility and its commoditisation. The sustainability skills gap in the industry needs to be bridged across all departments of companies to allow for successful sustainability strategies.
The panellists looked ahead and acknowledged the importance of moving away from the carbon tunnel vision to integrate wider aspects of sustainability. The industry should join the dots between the environment, society, and the economy, so that social value and biodiversity can become as essential as carbon. This would shift conversations on sustainability from risk aversion to value creation. The sector remains fragmented, and the panellists warned against moving forward without a solid foundation. Standards and collaboration in the industry will play a key role in the achievement of Net Zero, from the inclusion of WLC, to the expanding use of NABERS, and the highly anticipated Net Zero Carbon Building Standards, there is a lot to focus on and to look forward to.