Towards Sustainable Real Estate Fine tuning our focus

Fine tuning our focus on the issues that matter most

The world is changing at warp speed and so too are the opportunities and issues confronting us. For one, sustainability – and what it means to be a sustainable business – is evolving all the time. Just a decade ago a company could simply scatter gun some charitable donations at a few worthy causes. Back then, that was enough – job done. Today it’s a very different story. The world is a different place and sustainability has significantly moved on.

For instance, now there’s far more scrutiny about how services are provided, where products are made, and the treatment of workers in the supply chain. The world is warming faster than we imagined and we’re squandering the Earth’s resources at an alarming rate. The wholesale uptake of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals suggest the world is ready to take action on these important issues. And crucially, businesses everywhere are increasingly expected to form part of the solution.

With so many issues facing the world it is more important than ever that we focus our time and resources on those where we can have the greatest impact. From a global real estate perspective, there are four issues where we should – and could – make a terrific difference to the world if we simply put our hearts and minds to it.

At JLL we are convinced that by focusing on these four themes we will better position ourselves – and our clients – to tackle risks, reduce costs and above all else, embrace the opportunities of this shift to a more sustainable world.

1. Climate change brings wilder weather: In the eye of the storm

The Earth’s getting hotter and hotter, wreaking havoc on our weather and on our planet. Although the impact will be felt differently across the world, many regions are already experiencing some of the worst floods, droughts, hurricanes, or heat waves on record. Buildings are being damaged and businesses disrupted, and things could get a lot worse without deep cuts in emissions. Since the real estate sector is a top emitter of carbon it must be among the first to take action. In this sense we are both the cause – and the likely cure – of our climate woes.

2. Demand outstrips the Earth’s supply: Facing up to the resource squeeze

Our global population keeps on rising. Cities are growing faster than ever and more people are joining the ranks of the middle class and the heftier consumption patterns that go with it. Together these forces are leading humans to use many resources far faster than the Earth can replenish them. There are already signs of local or even global shortages in some critical resources such as freshwater, which is threatening supplies and pushing up costs. This is a ticking time bomb for organisations developing or operating large property portfolios that rely upon vast amounts of land, raw materials, basic resources and commodities.

3. The wellness industry booms: Putting the spotlight on workplace well-being

Until recently, much of the focus of workplace health and safety has been on basic safeguards that prevent serious injuries and accidents from happening at work. With these now largely in place, the agenda is broadening to encompass subtler aspects of our health and welfare such as nutrition and even mindfulness. This is partly because wellness is a big trend among millennials entering the workforce. But it’s also because workplace factors are known to contribute to things like stress and absence. Since these can have a big impact on productivity and performance, more companies must start fostering peoples’ well-being in a range of ways.

4. Business engages society: Serving the interests of the wider public

In many ways the world feels closer and more connected than ever before. Businesses need - and want - to be more open and inclusive, and to prove their worth to wider society. To do this, more companies are striving to cultivate relations and to align themselves with the interests of a much broader set of stakeholders. Through this deeper dialogue, businesses stand to gain a better sense of what society expects of them. They’re also far more likely to discover opportunities for collaboration on difficult issues facing the world, and to find solutions that enable businesses and society to prosper together.

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