Property development – What is ESG? Brenda Kibblewhite, Head of Sales and Marketing at This Land, explains all.
In a sector where so many acronyms are bandied around, perhaps none are as important as ESG. What does it stand for? Environmental, Social and Governance. Integrating practices across these three key areas into operations provides a valuable metric on how sustainable your business truly is.
And in property development, as occupiers and lenders become more environmentally and socially conscious, setting high ESG standards for yourself is certain to be an increasing requirement and a core driver of success.
Let’s take a closer look at each area of ESG.
Covering products, the supply chain and operations, the environmental aspect of ESG as you would probably guess, takes a microscope to the way a business minimises its impact on the environment.
Where do you start? A fabric first approach to maximise materials used in the make-up of builds before considering mechanical or electrical building services systems. Consider the use of renewable materials and ethically sourced products to strive towards net zero carbon.
This Land committed four years ago to the use of no fossil fuels in heating a house. Air Source Heat Pumps and more sustainable insulation materials are now the norm for us as a developer. As a result, not only do our practices score highly from an environmental standpoint thanks to a reduced carbon footprint, but our homebuyers benefit with increased energy efficiency saving them money on utility bills in the long run.
Protecting nature is another sure-fire way to improve your environmental credentials. Careful consideration of nesting season before new developments begin, introducing additional habitats such as swift and bat boxes, and an approach to landscaping and the creation of green spaces that encourage wildlife, not disrupt it.
What are you doing as an organisation to make a social impact? This is an area where developers must do so much more than simply comply with a checklist. Look to proactively make a difference by truly investing and contributing to local communities.
For This Land, community engagement sits at the very heart of our ethos. It’s not only about mitigating the negative impact of construction but adopting measures through direct engagement with parish councils, schools and local organisations to positively influence and enhance communities.
Meeting and listening to the needs of the local community before beginning a new development ensures society is at the heart of key decision making.
Engagement can be as simple as donating equipment for craft boxes for local children to enjoy during their Christmas school holidays as This Land did with Fen Ditton Primary School during the pandemic – an initiative which helped boost mental well-being for young people locally.
Or larger projects, such as creating a task force to shape proposals for the transfer of 3.8 hectares of land to the local parish council in order to deliver new sports pitches in Burwell. This followed consultation in which the local community identified facilities they would find most beneficial.
Outside of community engagement, locally sourced materials and partnerships with local businesses can also help support the local economy.
Adding a level of transparency to company leadership and the processes of key business decision-making, as well as diversity in the governance of your business is the final aspect.
Alongside accurate reporting of financial performance, business strategy and operations, this is where environmental and social impacts can be equally measured.
Successful governance should mean you’re able to demonstrate how the integration of environmental and social considerations are being driven by business leaders.
For property developers, this provides a level of accountability and good governance at the top of your business that will appeal to suppliers, homebuyers and investors.