Owners and investors don’t understand value of sustainable buildings, report says

Ramboll has just released its global sustainable buildings market report, which features the UK for the first time. The report analyses key drivers and emerging trends in sustainable building development and reveals that building owners still don’t fully understand the value of sustainable buildings.

According to the report, building owners and investors still have a significant knowledge gap when it comes to understanding the value of sustainable buildings, with 41% of respondents not knowing how much higher a rental yield can be commanded if sustainability measures are put in place.

Despite two-thirds stating that sustainability measures increase property value, 37% of respondents were unsure as to how much higher the property value is. The findings also highlight that respondents rate client, tenant or other stakeholder requirements (60%), enhancement of building performance (51%) and improved building quality (44%) as the key drivers behind sustainable buildings becoming mainstream.

In Europe, 90% of our daily lives are spent indoors. People live, learn and work in buildings, and the environments within and around buildings have a strong influence on productivity, health and overall well-being. Today, buildings are responsible for more than 40% of global energy usage, and as much as one third of greenhouse gas emissions. With the UK heading towards a zero-carbon future, the Ramboll report argues that it is time for the industry to make sustainable buildings the norm. 

Whilst the findings show that sustainable buildings are becoming more mainstream, it also confirms a lack of clarity on the costs and benefits of sustainable buildings. When asked if sustainable buildings are a good investment, close to 50% of all respondents have little or no insight if sustainable buildings cost more to build, if they have reduced operational cost or if they trade at a premium. 

It is clear from the report that there is a lack of hard evidence to show whether sustainable buildings yield a positive return on investment. Addressing this knowledge gap will be vital for accelerating the uptake of sustainable buildings. The report highlights several case studies and evidence that prove the value sustainability can deliver. 

Bringing market and domain insight, the Ramboll study helps to bridge the knowledge gap and provides actionable insights for investors, contractors and users of sustainable buildings. 

While return on investment is a key driver, Rikke Bjerregaard Orry, Ramboll’s global sustainability director for buildings, said: “We anticipate an increasing interest from future generations in leading sustainable lifestyles, minimising their personal carbon footprint and working for companies that share their values and operate sustainably. Sustainable buildings tap into this trend and will increasingly become an identity marker for companies striving to make a difference”.

Phil Kelly, Ramboll’s head of sustainability and building physics in the UK added: “Let’s also not forget who we are designing these buildings for. The occupants and tenants of the buildings we’re starting to design today, are going to be trying to attract the workforce of tomorrow who are just starting their GCSEs. Considering the school’s climate change protest earlier this year, we need to understand the demands of this workforce, who are going to have very high expectations of the buildings they live, learn and work within.” 

The study also reveals the latest trends for the sector, with life cycle thinking being the most important trend (71%), followed by health and wellbeing (58%) and carbon neutrality (53%). Commenting on these trends, Kelly said: “The uptake of lifecycle assessment is lagging far behind other sustainable building design methodologies, digitalisation is going to be critical in bringing information earlier in the design process where it can have the greatest impact to sustainability.” 

Click here to download the Sustainable Buildings Market Study 2019.

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