It seems particularly poignant to be reflecting on the progress and achievements of our UK Sustainability Council at a time when the world has, just this week, resolved to take the steps necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The outcome of COP21, the “L’Appel de Paris”, is unprecedented and a true landmark in global cooperation and diplomacy. As with any such international agreement, it remains to be seen whether or not the goal will be successfully realised. Either way, the implications for the real estate industry will be very significant; we can be confident that our sector, in the UK and around the world, will be pushed to take greater steps to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate resource efficiency, whilst at the same time improving the resilience of built assets to inevitable climate change.
These themes are central to the programme of our Council, and our last event of 2015 brought together Members to discuss the expectations of, and the uncertainties concerning, COP21. We were joined by the Head of International Climate Change Engagement from the UK Government’s Department of Energy & Climate Change, who brought with her some unique and candid insights.
This pre-COP21 discussion, an excellent summary of which is available on the ULI website, exemplified what our Council is all about:
- Focusing on sustainability solutions at urban and city scales, going beyond individual buildings;
- Learning from international best practice, exploiting the strength of ULI’s networks across the globe;
- Meeting with leading experts from public and private sector, academia and not for profit;
- Being exposed to a multi-disciplinary viewpoint, allowing for the fusion of strategic and technical sustainability skillsets; and
- Being challenged with cutting edge research, innovation and case studies.
We will be holding another debate early in the New Year to discuss the actual outcomes of COP21, their implications for our Members’ assets and businesses, and the leadership role(s) that the ULI should be playing in light of its worldwide Mission.
As well as putting a spotlight on the threats and opportunities of climate change, our activities this year have included:
- A behind the scenes tour of Macquarie Capital’s London HQ at Ropemaker Place, exploring the original design philosophy with developer, British Land, and seeing how Macquarie orchestrates its use of the building, including through its bold and ambitious fit-out, to enhance collaborative working and optimise the productivity of its people;
- A tour, to coincide with our summer drinks event, of the remarkable Bootstrap Company in Hackney, exploring the ingredients necessary for stimulating and sustaining social enterprise, community cohesion and One Planet Living.
Our Council has strengthened its Committee by welcoming the Head of Responsible Property Investment from Schroders and the CEO of Bootstrap Company to its ranks. I would like to extend my thanks to all of our Committee, our highly engaged and passionate Council Members, and the ULI staff for making this a successful year of consolidation for our young and ambitious Council. I’d also like to extend a special note of thanks and admiration to Kate Brown at Grosvenor, from whom I took over chairmanship of the Council earlier this year. Kate has driven the establishment and early growth of our Council and I am delighted that she has elected to remain an active member of our Council Committee.
I look forward to further strengthening the role and function of the Sustainability Council next year, and would be delighted to hear from anyone who is keen to join our growing group of Council Members.
Co-Founder & Director of Hillbreak, ULI UK Sustainability Council Chair