Today's Estates Gazette conference in London -'The Future of Real Estate: In a changing world' - tackled a question with any number of possible answers. From multi-generational living to proptech to placemaking to green finance, it is increasingly clear that the future of real estate will bring a more connected relationship between people, buildings, technology and the environment, driven by businesses and individuals who are passionate and committed to delivering transformational projects. 

But the sustainability agenda needs to be a bigger part of that debate and given more priority in strategy discussions across the sector. How do we move sustainability up the board room agenda? Where will we find the "inventors, thinkers and go-getters", as asked by Emma Greenwood, Youth MP for Bury, in her inspiring keynote speech. The morning's panel sought to get some answers. 

Shoosmiths environmental partner, Angus Evers, was joined on a panel by Marco Abdallah - Head of Engineering at Drees & Sommer, Sophie Carruth - Head of Sustainability Europe at LaSalle Investment Management, Louise Ellison - Head of Sustainability at Hammerson, Jon Gibson - Head of Sustainability at Avison Young and Sarah Ratcliffe - Chief Executive at Better Buildings Partnership, to discuss what more needs to be done to ensure sustainability becomes a priority for the industry. 

Some of the points discussed included:

  • Sustainability means different things to different people, but at its core it means the future of our businesses. Ignoring it will be a risk to future revenue. 
  • Sustainability needs to be embedded in all business processes, from top to bottom, and an automatic part of strategic decision making. It cannot work in isolation.
  • The last few years have seen a step change in how sustainability is viewed within organisations, with sustainability performance metrics and commitments now given more prominence alongside financial results reporting.
  • The most sustainable buildings are the ones we have. We need to get better at retro fitting buildings. 
  • We spend 90% of our time in buildings that will be here for generations to come. Making them sustainable will only make them more attractive to investors over the long term. 
  • We need government action to drive change, with regulation that supports the industry. 

Please contact Angus on angus.evers@shoosmiths.co.uk if you would like to chat about sustainability.