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With the built environment contributing around 40 per cent of the UK’s total carbon footprint, the commercial real estate sector has a strong role to play in the UK’s ambition to reach Net Zero. As investors are increasingly scrutinising an organisation’s ESG standards, and with many tech start-ups being hungry for investment, ESG is an area that cannot be ignored.

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance ) responsibility comes both from the corporate and individual, and each must play their part. Where the two align is within the office environment. The physical workplace is fast becoming an area where significant gains can be made in satisfying business-related environmental goals. Whether it is the attention to the use of resources such as water and electricity, or through the actual fabric of the building, which ideally would offer its own level of sustainability credentials, a joined-up approach has never been more important. The impact of inaction could negatively affect customer relations, revenue, and the well-being of staff and their morale.

What is becoming more apparent, is the need to address not only the ‘E’ but the ‘S’ in ESG.  With the dramatic shift in working away from central hubs the last 18 months, workers are expecting more and different benefits such as permanent flexible working arrangements that can greatly improve work-life balance.  To ensure businesses are achieving the highest standard in their social goals, special attention needs to be taken to engaging their people and understanding how workforce expectations have shifted.

The technology sector has been quicker than most to include environmental targets and controls within their governance structure. Tech firms have, for several years, been a key driver in office leasing activity in cities across the UK. Their flight to high-quality buildings has increased exponentially in those years, and their desire to secure the best-in-class space supports both their talent and more recently their ESG requirements. As demand for more ‘green’ workplaces increases, are firms willing to pay that extra premium for higher quality spaces? 

In the coming years, DeVono foresees the office being viewed increasingly as a place where businesses can progress their ESG goals. Demand for ‘green’ workplaces will increase from potential investors looking to finance businesses with high ESG standards and from environmentally conscious employees who seek to work for companies viewed as progressive, sustainable, and caring towards the environment.

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