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Grosvenor Shows How Big Real Estate Firms Can Help Small Suppliers Hit Climate Targets

Grosvenor Square, at the heart of Grosvenor's Mayfair estate

One of the UK’s largest real estate owners has significantly increased the number of small UK companies with a blue-chip carbon reduction target through a mentoring and education programme.

A total of 28 small and medium-sized companies are set to gain a science-based target from the Science-Based Target Initiative, a globally recognised carbon reduction pledge, in the next few months as a result of the free mentoring programme established by Grosvenor Property UK.

Building on its own experience of gaining a validated science-based target in 2021, Grosvenor created a free eight-month programme delivered by Heart of the City to help its SME suppliers — those with fewer than 500 employees — map and reduce their own carbon footprints.

The SBTi is a partnership between charity CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature. 

Just 140 UK SMEs have validated near-term targets with the SBTi. With 28 participants committing to gaining validation, the number of small independent businesses with science-based targets will increase 20%, Grosvenor said.  

Firms gained support across workshops, clinic sessions and 1:1 mentoring in calculating their baselines, setting action plans and submitting for validated science-based targets reducing carbon emissions to the point they are helping limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees celsius.

After baselining their emissions and committing to achieving a near-term target, the programme will support the companies in abating an estimated 55,000 tonnes of carbon by 2030, the equivalent of heating 23,000 UK homes for a year.

Grosvenor's effort is not entirely philanthropic as it can’t meet its own net-zero goal without the participation and support of its suppliers. 

But getting suppliers to reduce their emissions it is a win for all companies involved and the planet, it said. Crucially, it means large companies like Grosvenor, with resources, staff and money to devote to decarbonisation targets, can help small companies that don’t have the resources to hire specialists.  

Grosvenor owns £5.1B of UK assets, including big swathes of Mayfair and Belgravia. 

The company said reasons for joining among its suppliers included low internal resource and knowledge around sustainability, gaining support and peer group networking opportunities, and the ability to meet future client demand for aligned net-zero committed partners.

“Our SME partners are incredibly supportive of our environmental ambitions, but they don’t have the resources of larger businesses,” Grosvenor Sustainability Programme Director Victoria Herring said in an emailed statement.

“Transformative partnerships are a key part of our own net-zero ambition. And, as a critical part of our supply chain, we created this programme to help SMEs on their journey but also to support them in remaining competitive with clients.”

“We know that net zero isn’t an easy topic for SMEs — they have limited resources to dedicate to sustainability and are facing many current business challenges,” Heart of the City Director Maggie Berry said. “But we also know that SMEs are fundamental to the UK’s economy and as a country, we won’t reach net zero unless all businesses can make changes.”

As the first European property company with a long-term science-based target, Grosvenor has committed to reducing emissions by 90% by 2040. With supply chain emissions accounting for almost 50% of the business’s carbon footprint between 2019 and 2030, working with partners committed to net zero will be a critical success factor.

By 2030, the company expects 40% of its supply chain by emissions to have a science-based target. It aims to only award contracts over £1M to partners with a science-based target.