No ESG without digital


Every responsible real estate investor recognises the importance of ESG – and being able to show their commitment to it. 

The built environment is a big consumer of natural resources but carries the potential to achieve huge social benefits, so making building assets as sustainable as possible within finite financial and often constrained physical parameters is the investors’ constant challenge.  Beyond this, being able to quantify the social impacts of development activity objectively is an increasingly important feature of business reputation for institutional property owners. 

It may not be immediately obvious but digital technology has a big part to play in the achievement and demonstration of ESG values.
Making any kind of statement about responsible construction activity, sustainability achievements or ESG compliance relies on credible data. This can be expressed in the form of kw/h of electricity or m³ of water or gas, it can be tons of waste generation and land use in sqm or the familiar CO2 footprint, to name a few.
Jürgen Scheins Head of Building Consultancy & Project Management Germany
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In our sometimes under-sophisticated real estate industry, where data is still stored in dusty basement folders and information recorded in Excel continues to be seen as the best we can achieve, it’s clear that efficient and innovative data management is essential. Digitalisation offers the most effective solution to the continuing challenge

“You cannot manage, what you don't measure”.

But the answer doesn’t lie in more or better technology alone. Property owning businesses need a Data Management Concept and a corresponding System, which defines the starting point for each building in terms of, for example, energy consumption. Simply understanding this baseline is enough of a starting point to create a strategy for decarbonisation and the identification of measures for energy reduction. Data is simply the key to ESG.

Smart buildings and the large-scale installation of sensors capable of collecting multiple categories of data can make ESG building performance transparent, because it’s only through the analysis of real-time data that improvements in building performance can be shaped and implemented.

Monitoring tools like CBRE’s Asset IQ, a web-based platform which remotely connects to your Building Management Systems (BMS) and CBRE’s property management system Deepki captures data that can help optimise energy usage, increase operational effectiveness and enhance occupier well-being. Investors have been using it across their portfolios to compare how each asset is performing and drive down costs as well as monitor how they are performing against operational benchmarks, ultimately supporting their green funding and progression against their net zero pathways.

But it doesn’t just have to be about information. In a multi-occupied building in Berlin, where the tenant’s electricity and water use were displayed in the form of a ranking in the lobby, consumption dropped by as much as 20% at incredible speed because none of the tenants wanted to come last.

An app which can be on every employee’s smartphone and does the same thing, helps achieve goals like this without having to convert the lobby. Introducing an element of friendly competition – it’s called gamification - makes doing good ecologically and having fun even become compatible.

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