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5 Trends That Are Creating The Sustainable Property Framework

While 2016 was a year of humanizing sustainability and empowering people to take action, 2017 will be a year of more ambitious climate change initiatives that will impact London, according to CBRE’s EMEA head of sustainability, Rebecca Pearce. We talked with her about five trends in sustainability that are creating the framework for the future of development.


Regulation: The COP21 commitments by the EU and across the globe will require new legislation to enforce, which will no doubt impact construction and real estate. In the UK, MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) will come into force in 2018. That's already prompted action from many building owners, but will not be enough to meet the UK’s existing carbon targets, irrespective of Brexit. The property sector could be seen as an easy win so expect more action before 2020, Pearce said.

Access To Constant, Real-Time Data: Internet of Things technology is empowering people with knowledge about energy consumption and linking their actions with cost and carbon savings. Pearce predicts the increasing transparency offered by “smart buildings” will continue to increase awareness of the connection between our built environment and our choices.  

Renewables: Technology around renewables will continue to advance, alongside developments in energy storage, allowing low carbon energy to become more cost effective. Pearce noted, however, that in the UK we have a worrying trend of reducing government support (subsidies, planning approvals, infrastructure priorities), which is predicted to significantly reduce investment. 

Green Money: Much has been made of the rise of green bonds, but Pearce is hopeful that 2017 will be the year where we can unlock these funds to make impacts to existing buildings. So far implementing small- to medium-scale projects has been difficult, but a number of financial instruments, such as Lloyds Green Lending Fund, are emerging to assist building owners.

Transportation: Madrid and other European capitals are discussing banning cars, but a wholesale ban on personal cars is unlikely for London, and probably wouldn’t solve our air quality and congestion problems in any case. Pearce said banning heavy goods and delivery vehicles during specific hours would be more useful and have additional safety benefits. A move to lower emission buses is already underway and in the medium term we will have the benefit of reduced emissions from an increase in electric vehicles for delivery and personal transport. The trends toward consolidation of deliveries and autonomous vehicles could also have a significant impact, but each of these changes will require changes to the way we think about infrastructure and property.