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The European Union aims to meet its climate neutrality goal by 2050. The real estate sector is a key player in achieving this, looking to reduce 60 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and fully decarbonize by 2050. Real estate investors are increasingly targeting portfolios that support these goals, with environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations gaining prominence.
Arcadis was approached by a French real estate investor looking to undertake an assessment to secure the French SRI label (Socially Responsible Investment), indicating compliance with financial as well as environmental, ethical, social and governance criteria for its portfolio of real estate assets in Europe. With buildings in various locations, as well as diverse stakeholders and the need to meet local compliance requirements and regulations, the challenge was to synchronize strategies and metrics to meet the fast-evolving SRI criteria within a short timeframe.
We worked closely with our client to develop a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which began with an assessment of its building portfolio in line with several project objectives, including the need to demonstrate that it had maintained the quality of its assets, or improved their performance in line with critical sustainability goals.
We developed 12 critical KPIs around which to base our assessment, which included:
- Environmental - Energy, Carbon, Water, Pollution, Biodiversity, and Waste
- Social - Wellbeing, Mobility, and Amenities
- Governance - Stakeholder management, Process certification, and Building sustainability management
The next step was for us to carry out tailored site inspections, identifying opportunities for future asset enhancements that would improve performance potential in line with our pre-agreed KPIs. We wanted to optimise the assets in such a way that performance could be improved beyond the requirements for the SRI label. For instance, by carrying out energy audits and putting in place procedures and equipment that could track asset-level energy and carbon performance, we were able to achieve maximum points for the Environmental pillar of the certification.
By leveraging our team’s in-depth sustainability advisory expertise and knowledge of the real estate sector, we were able to design and execute this program within an extremely tight timeframe. Ultimately, we were able to help our client achieve the prestigious French SRI label in just 4 months; a testament to meticulous planning and execution.
When any assets might not have achieved maximum points, we were able to develop a clear pathway for improvements that would exceed compliance, including CAPEX guidance if additional equipment was needed. The client’s local teams also gained an understanding of the requirements for best practice within their regional and national contexts, which fed through to the group’s overall sustainability performance.
In addition to the French SRI label, which signals a commitment to responsible investment, our client adopted recommendations from our review to ensure their portfolio also embraced enhanced sustainability performance that aligned with global ESG goals. Notably, our efforts resonated across borders, fostering a shared sustainable vision among stakeholders throughout the client’s international business.