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ESG strategies: CEO, Gareth Simm, shares his views


ESG strategies: CEO, Gareth Simm, shares his views

With the pandemic having redefined the role of the office leading to a shift in remote working, will this lead to future offices being designed with efficiency, sustainability, and well-being in mind?

Will more companies begin to realise that there are greater financial benefits to being green when measured over a building’s lifecycle? What sort of impact can this type of green investment have?

The views of our CEO, Gareth Simm, focus on two very specific questions:

Q1 What are some of the misconceptions clients can have regarding upgrading outdated infrastructure?

The biggest misconception is that everything’s going to go back to normal – that people are going to want to go back to work in low-quality offices. It’s a case of supply and demand. I expect tenants will begin renegotiating for the office space and quality they actually need. This means developers with lower quality locations will need to adapt to new demands – to upgrade and reconfigure spaces, bringing in more areas for collaboration, touch free technologies, clean air, natural ventilation, solar controlled glazing and more besides, just to compete.

With a lower square foot requirement and reduced associated costs, tenants have the option to focus on quality, well-being and efficiency. Tenants will look for the best they can afford, and with less focus on floor size and more focus on flexibility and, the ‘best’ will be significantly better.

Q2 Are some initially hesitant to upgrade because of concerns about upfront costs?

Some building owners are certainly hesitant to upgrade due to cost implications. In my experience, while it’s more expensive to build a sustainable building, better materials and more considered design can often halve maintenance and upgrade costs across the building lifecycle. Long term, sustainability can be far more cost-effective.

If buildings are built cheaply to tick the ESG boxes, but without considering long-term maintenance and replacement parts, then that ‘green’ building can quickly be revealed as hugely unsustainable in the long term. The way out of it in my view is long-term legislation to bring the industry out of a quarterly or yearly priority cycle.

Gareth’s views caught the attention of Racontuer and subsequently featured in its Sustainable Investment Report and in the Sunday Times on February 14th 2021.