Podium Property Insights: Sustainability Tracking

Podium Property Insights: Sustainability Tracking

As businesses make net zero commitments to align with global carbon emissions targets, it is important to consider the role of the workplace in achieving sustainability goals.

When businesses weigh up their environmental impact, they typically consider the carbon produced in the creation and delivery of their products and services. They don't necessarily stop to also consider the environmental impact of their building and workspace, even though it can be significant.

Buildings and construction together account for 36 per cent of global final energy use and 39 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions when upstream power generation is included, according to the World Green Building Council.

One third of those carbon dioxide emissions are embodied carbon emitted during the construction of a building, while two-thirds produced through building operations.

The energy intensity per square metre of the global buildings sector needs to improve on average by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2015, to be on track to meet global climate ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement.

This presents a significant opportunity for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint in alignment with their ESG goals. A much stronger visibility into utility spend, combined with the ability to take action to reduce spend, can reduce energy costs by up to 20 per cent, according to Accenture internal research.

This delivers a two-fold benefit on the financial statements – both reducing the business' energy bills and reducing the need to purchase carbon offsets. As a result, it can deliver a clear Return on Investment on efforts to reduce the workplace's environmental impact.

In an age of growing environmental awareness, reducing carbon emissions is also important when it comes to the business' social licence to operate. Likewise, investors and the market pay close attention to sustainability efforts. To date, 56 per cent of organisations have started a corporate real estate strategy to decarbonise, according to JLL's Decarbonising the Built Environment; 2021 report.

Additionally, today's employees are placing a greater emphasis on a business' environmental credentials when evaluating an employer of choice. As such, achieving net zero commitments is also a key factor in any business' employee value proposition and ongoing employee satisfaction, amid the growing struggle to attract and retain the best talent.

Lendlease has committed to net zero emissions by 2025 and absolute zero emissions by 2040. Accenture, which recently appointed its first Chief Responsibility Officer, has also committed to net zero emissions by 2025. Podium Property Insights will be a significant tool to assist with achieving those goals.

Traditionally, workplace managers have felt that the ability to influence sustainability efforts within the office was beyond their control and lay solely with the landlord or the building manager.

With the clearer vision provided by Podium Property Insights, building tenants and workplace managers can now actively contribute to the business' sustainability efforts. This includes reducing carbon emissions from electricity and gas, as well as reducing water and waste.

Granular real-time insights allow workplace managers to be proactive in their efforts and measure the impact of their initiatives, rather than merely reacting to monthly or quarterly utility bills. A combination of workplace sensors and occupancy data unlocks more powerful metrics, such as kilowatt-hours per square metre or kilowatt-hours per occupant.

This allows workplace managers to track the performance of their workplace initiatives and compare them against sustainability metrics and targets, to provide a clear link between the physical and digital.

Access to detailed occupancy data, cross-referenced with insights into when and how employees actually use their workspace, is particularly powerful in the age of the hybrid office. A clearer view of real-time and forecast occupancy allows businesses to consolidate staff into fewer floors while still providing them an effective, productive and satisfying workplace.

By creating unoccupied floors, workplace manages can reduce lighting, HVAC and other services which consume resources and add to the business' carbon footprint.

In a pilot of four buildings, Lendlease collected more than one billion data points during the past six months. Through the Podium Property Insights platform, this data has been analysed and recommendations put in place to reduce the carbon impact of the buildings during COVID-19 lockdown periods.

The platform helped achieve a combined 24 per cent reduction in electricity consumption and a 21 per cent reduction in gas consumption across the sites, by tuning systems to operate in line with reduced occupancy.

Such initiatives demonstrate the power of data-driven insight to help workplace managers make a significant contribution to reducing the business' carbon footprint and achieving its sustainability targets. All while reducing costs, to improve the bottom line and boost employee satisfaction for those who place a strong emphasis on their employer's environmental credentials.