Australian buildings are rushing to go green, but supply chains and the environment must be included in their goals. Antonia Trumbull explains.
With a global ambition to reach NetZero targets by 2050, businesses in Australia are beginning to recognise the importance of setting their own sustainability goals. Off the back of this, while the pandemic has seen many industries encounter unprecedented effects, sustainability has played a key role in why smart building investment has not slowed down.
Now more than ever before, the real estate sector is seeing an increasing interest in areas such as sustainability, ESG (environmental, social and governance), and tenant experience in an effort to drive attraction and retention of tenants. What is most prominent is the increased investment into healthy buildings with more companies recognising the major role buildings play in creating a greener Australia for the future.
A desire for a greener real estate sector
Alarmingly, 40 percent of global CO₂ emissions come from buildings each year. To make matters worse, leaders in the real estate sector are also seeing up to 30 percent of used energy in buildings essentially wasted.
While many Australian businesses have demonstrated a desire to support a more sustainable future by doing their bit to help reduce our overall increase in temperature to no more than two degrees, realistically the dramatic uptake in green buildings will be critical when it comes to hitting this target.
It’s important for those in the sector to understand there is a lot more to going green than meets the eye. In fact, one of the most important things to note is that all key stakeholders must be involved – so not just the owners of real estate but the occupants too – to figure out how everyone can work together to achieve a set common goal.
Currently, one of the biggest shared objectives we are seeing from tenants when it comes to seeing investments from owners, is sustainability and the built environment. This means, there is a strong collaborative desire to digitise and ‘green up’ both base building and tenant areas.
What really makes a ‘green’ building?
These days, the definition of a green building is one that is more holistic and connected to the entire life cycle of the building, an ethos that moves right through to the supply chain. Therefore, in addition to setting green goals, buildings also need to be designed with the environment in mind to have a positive impact.
Evidence also shows that there is a remarkable demand from consumers for buildings to place more importance on sustainability. Research shows sustainable practices are lowering cost and increasing tenant satisfaction – therefore, increasing overall value while protecting the environment at the same time.
To achieve this, we are seeing buildings use more sustainable materials, implementing life cycle recycling initiatives and introducing well-researched energy strategies such as solar or EV charging to make sure they have fully integrated a robust strategy.
The digital solution
When developing these strategies, it is important to place a large emphasis on digitalisation. Due to the ongoing and rapid uptake of digital that Australia has seen over the past 18 months, technology such as AI and IoT are set to become the main drivers of our next wave of digital transformation.
Unlike more traditional buildings, green buildings have the ability to harness this technology. As a result, this is providing companies with the remarkable ability to run algorithms and collect data which can be used to learn from and create more detailed, accurate strategies to optimise their sustainability efforts long term.
The impacts of non-sustainable practices in real estate
For those that choose not to invest in this area the consequences will be significant. If buildings remain operating in their current state, there is sure to be an impact on both their shareholder investment and overall sustainability strategies as a whole. With buildings contributing so highly to our current CO₂ emissions, reimagining the way we design our buildings will be an important consideration in future proofing.
There is no doubt that Australians are continuously increasing their expectations when it comes to sustainability. If the real estate sector fails to implement necessary environmental practices and leverage the available technology to enhance their sustainability strategies, not only are they likely to deter tenants, they’ll be responsible for an unnecessarily large percentage of Australia’s CO₂ emissions each year.
Antonia Trumbull is real estate segment lead, Pacific Zone at Schneider Electric.