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05 SEPTEMBER 2023
Giovanna Tapia, Sustainability Team
This blog first appeared as part of Estates Gazette's Starting Out In Real Estate programme, aimed at embracing diversity and opportunity for young people in the UK commercial property sector.
For many, a job in property isn’t the obvious choice if you’re seeking a purpose led and sustainability-oriented career. Rather, it’s often framed as contributing factor to society’s broader environmental problems and slow to offer solutions. But a closer look reveals the picture is far more positive and the opportunities far more dynamic than you might initially imagine.
Today, the sector offers opportunities ranging from reimagining out-dated buildings to transforming cities and neighbourhoods through innovation and technology. And it is precisely because property has such a large carbon footprint, that your skills could help significantly accelerate the transition to a net-zero future.
Property professionals have a huge role in influencing the landscape of a city as there’s a growing (and urgent) need to adapt and futureproof existing buildings. Take Grosvenor’s first net-zero building, Holbein Gardens, which saw the redevelopment of an outdated 1980s building into one of London’s most sustainable workplaces. From the start, the aim was to repurpose rather than demolish; the challenge was figuring out how to get there.
Working with architects, planners and contractors, we reused many of the building's existing materials to reduce the impact of construction, but also introduced features like solar panels and extensive greening to reduce its future environmental impact.
We’re also innovating to meet our net-zero and biodiversity goals; we’ve partnered with the National Space Agency to map building rooftops to identify space for green roofs, analysed building energy use remotely to support retrofit investment, and recently invested in an AI platform to reduce waste at development sites.
But sustainability is also about people: the positive impact that changes to physical spaces can have on people’s lived realities. Ensuring communities are empowered and resilient is as much a goal of progressive property owners as reaching environmental goals, largely because they don’t exist in a vacuum, a change in one will affect the others.
Ultimately, people are the experts in what makes their neighbourhoods most ‘liveable’ so we’re working to give residents, local businesses and workers, the opportunity to actively influence their area. This type of participatory planning means that we can invest more intelligently and maximise social and environmental impact, by taking into account the needs of residents.
Anyone wanting to pursue a career in sustainability might be tempted to go toward tech, but few industries provide the same diversity in career paths for sustainability as property, and the sector is becoming just as tech enabled as others.
As someone who pivoted into sustainability from a career in marketing, property or anything ‘construction’ related felt like one of the last places I could imagine working. But increasingly, it has become clear that property can be more diverse, progressive, and interesting of an industry than I once thought.
From the homes we live in, to your college, or where you socialise and work, we interact with real estate in almost every aspect of our day. A career in real estate offers you the ability to literally walk around and see the impact you’re having on people’s lives, in a way that most other careers don’t.
It’s true that the built environment accounts for ~40% of global emissions, and we grapple with big questions about how to deliver new places that balance questions of zero carbon and enhanced biodiversity with the need for more homes, schools, workplaces and community facilities. But it’s precisely these types of complex challenges and jarring statistics that makes it an exciting place to work. We have the power to be changemakers and to positively influence the world around us.
Read the full content here.