Some improvement in the push for sustainability has been made in the past year, notably in the commercial real estate sector as demand for green buildings continues to rise, according to the 2022 RICS Sustainability Report. However, the data also showed little or no change in some important areas in the past 12 months. in construction, a significant share of professionals say they do not measure carbon emissions on projects.
Occupier and investor demand for green buildings continues to rise globally as almost half of respondents report lower rents and sale prices for non-sustainable buildings – the majority of respondents citing that this is up to a 10% discount in price. While the appetite to seek green buildings in the commercial property sector continues to rise, the change is modest, according to the majority of respondents in North America. Looking at investors and occupiers separately, around 45% of contributors note that occupier demand for green/sustainable buildings has risen over the past 12 months.
Construction professionals are beginning to embrace digital tools and technologies to complete sustainability-related analysis for construction projects, predominantly to assess energy needs and costs, but they are less likely to utilize these tools to reduce embodied carbon or to measure the impact on biodiversity.
“It is of benefit to all to embrace climate strategy, and we must reduce our impact as the built environment. Behavior change is happening, with higher rents and prices being seen for the more desirable sustainable properties, and climate risk assessments by investors on their built assets rising in the Americas,” said Kisa Zehra, RICS sustainability analyst. “But measuring all forms of carbon is also critical to the changes we need to see from the built environment.”
More than half (54%) noted a rise in climate risk assessments by investors on their built assets, suggesting that climate issues could be influencing the behavior of key market players.
But challenges remain, Respondents cited a lack of tools, databases, established standards and benchmarks identified as key obstacles to improving sustainability. Contributors also highlighted high costs or low availability of low carbon materials and skill shortages as a challenge.