Property firms must commit to sustainability in 2020, says RICS

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is urging property and construction firms to make 2020 the year they commit to going green after a YouGov poll revealed that real estate employers may not be doing enough to reduce their operational impact on the environment.

The survey – commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – revealed that 34% of real estate and construction workers feel their employer is not doing enough to help reduce its environmental impact, while 22% admitted they were unsure if their employer is doing enough.

Worryingly, over half of contributors (62%) also said they do not feel that environmental sustainability is at the centre of their employer’s decision-making.

Dr Patrice Cairns, policy manager for Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: “The government cannot address climate change on its own.

“We need a collaborative effort, especially from the built environment industry as it is a major contributor to the climate change problem, with 40% of national energy consumption coming from the sector.

“This is why we have developed a number of resources – as part of our Value the Planet campaign – which will provide firms with useful, long-term solutions to develop and implement more sustainable business practices and help preserve the planet for the future.”

Earlier this year, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors launched the Value the Planet campaign, which aims to encourage firms of all sizes in the built environment sector to reduce their operational impact on the environment and consider the longer-term sustainability of their business decision making on society by committing to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of the campaign, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has also launched a Responsible Business Report which includes solutions for companies to operate greener, including introducing higher recycling rates and reducing energy, transport and water use, where possible.

Despite RICS launching its Value the Planet campaign in October this year, the YouGov poll revealed that only 28% of real estate/construction workers feel that industry bodies are doing enough to help support property and construction firms in reducing their environmental impact.

A majority (80%) agreed that a collaborative effort from all industry bodies is needed to encourage property firms to operate more sustainably.

Dr Cairns added: “These survey results are a stark reminder that a truly collaborative effort is needed, not only from employers but also professional industry bodies, in order to improve the environment and the future of our planet.

“This is why we have recently joined a climate change expert panel, along with other built environment professional bodies (in membership of the UK Construction Industry Council) to provide advice and guidance on all sector matters relating to the mitigation of climate change.

“This joint approach will help call for, and develop, new regulatory and policy approaches to tackle climate change, and look to identify how best the built environment professions can work together to drive a Net Zero pathway.”