LONDON, U.K.—A new report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) argues while the built environment is going in the right direction, it is still not moving fast enough to decarbonize building stock.
The RICS World Built Environment Forum Sustainability Report 2021 obtained input from over 4,000 contributors to the RICS Global Commercial Property Monitor and the RICS Global Construction Monitor. The report indicated there is growing appetite for greener buildings and more sustainable projects to help reach global net-zero targets.
Looking at the construction sector, two-thirds of respondents say the top priority for the sector to become more sustainable is through minimizing waste, and around half of respondents see more resilient construction products, materials and components as a principal concern. Despite 55 per cent of respondents reporting an increase in demand for recycled and reusable materials in the past year, 43 per cent have yet to see a change.
Respondents were asked about their operational and embodied carbon measurement practices. Seventy per cent replied there is no operational carbon measurement taking place in the lifecycle of their projects. More than half of the respondents say they don’t measure embodied carbon and for those that do, less than 14 per cent use it to select the materials they use in their project.
Around 18 per cent of respondents said if there was a standardized approach for measuring their carbon, they would use it, with the greatest demand (over 30 per cent) being seen in New Zealand, Singapore and Philippines.
The report identified the International Construction Management Standards program as a potential tool for assessing carbon reduction standards.
On the commercial side, over 40 per cent of respondents identify client, stakeholder and customer demand as one of the main driving forces behind the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment boom.
The American markets are seeing a pickup for climate-adapted real estate which is being reflected in rent premiums as 48 per cent of respondents are reporting a rise in rent for greener buildings.
Across the Americas the main driving force behind the ESG investment boom is the demand from clients, stakeholders and customers (40 per cent) followed by increased awareness of ESG risks and opportunities (34 per cent).
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, commented: “As countries strive to achieve net-zero, the rising awareness in how integral ESG goals are to our future is coming through in our survey, as more occupiers and investors look for buildings that contribute to reducing their carbon footprint.”