Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Sustainability Christmas Wrap Up

By Rebecca Pearce 
EMEA Head of Sustainability

It has been an interesting year in the world of sustainable property. One could be forgiven for thinking we have a tale of two cities with significant developments coming out of both London and Paris. However, the trajectory of changes were not aligned and quite different.

First up in France, and in support of the EU’s Climate and Energy Package, the Government introduced new guidance and regulations such as the “Eclairage Nocturne” 
Part of which includes commercial premises switching off interior and exterior lighting outside of working hours – the “BIM and PropertyManagement” guidance.

This enables more sustainable property management and the “Energy EfficiencyCharter for Commercial Buildings” which is a voluntary agreement by commercial occupiers to reduce energy consumption that could realise €8 billion worth of savings by 2020.

This was followed in October 2014 by legislation around “Energy Transition for Green Growth”. This sets out 8 objectives to drive greenhouse gas emissions reduction through innovation and better practice across all industries.

In contrast to the French drive for new policy, the legislative agenda in the UK has been one of review of existing regulations.

Thresholds for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) were increased with a view to promoting development of more housing requirements.

Site waste managementplans were repealed and the 2013 update of the Building Regulations finally came into effect, albeit with reduced performance requirements.

Widespread industrycalls for clarity on the Minimum Energy Performance Standards implied in the Energy Act 2011 have so far not received a satisfactory response. The Government’s consultation exercise was completed in September 2014 but so far no definitive guidance has been provided, with concerns that this may be pushed back until after the May 2015 election. 

In contrast the UK’s Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme has been pushed through very quickly, in response to Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive

Large organisations are already tackling the requirement to understand their energy use and document plans to reduce it by December 2015. Several EU states are behind the deadline, now passed, to address Article 8 – we await announcement of the national regulations with interest.

Best of the Rest
Of course there is more to sustainable property in Europe and the Middle East. In 2014 Europe was the ‘most improved player’ in the GRESB benchmark with half of all “Green Stars” now from EU based funds.  

Eastern Europe saw a big increase in interest for sustainable real estate from developers, owners and occupiers as cited by the Czech Republic.

2014 was a watershed year for bringing the human element to the green building movement. The World Green Building Council’s report on “Health, Wellbeing andProductivity in Offices” provided practical examples of how to create sustainable buildings that don’t just do less harm, but can actually be good for their occupants and the community. I predict that developments in the Delos Well Building programme will take this even further next year.

Year Ahead
2015 is a big year for the climate change challenge, but 2014 laid some significant building blocks. 

As we build up to the critical UN conference in Paris in December the US-China agreement in November to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 could be a tipping point for global agreement. While there are some laggards and many challenges in the detail, I am optimistic.

Wishing everyone the very best for the year ahead.

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