Sustainable retrofit

The future of sustainable retrofit – Insight-Artikel by Lars Schmitt

The pressure on commercial property owners to carry out retrofit measures is growing. After all, building energy performance influences investment decisions and tenant demand - as evidenced by our wide angle report “The Power of Place: The cost of inaction”, which shows the primary reason among landlords for investing in improving energy performance is tenant attraction and retention. 

Source: ISG’s wide angle ‘The power of place: The true cost of inaction’ (UK report)

The second edition of the Building Energy Act (GEG), which came into force on 1 January 2024, further tightens climate protection measures imposed by legislators. Rising operating costs and rapidly increasing energy prices have brought ESG principles even more into focus. Every stakeholder along the real estate value chain must address this issue, aiming for long-term low-energy buildings to become the standard.

In the international context, "Energy, Performance Certificate” (EPC) also plays an important role in property valuation. While EPC ratings address building design and potential at a time when energy performance has never been more prominent, operational efficiency and net zero performance is essential. Achieving net zero is now arguably more important to investors than securing environmental design-based rating certificates, such as DGNB, BREEAM and LEED. The rise in profile of NABERS as a highly desirable accreditation shows how operational energy performance is starting to drive the market. 

Source: ISG’s wide angle ‘The power of place: The true cost of inaction’ (UK report)

The first milestone in improving performance starts making greater use of what we already have

To improve energy performance, we must enhance the circularity of technical building equipment. But what if the requirements of a new tenant differ from those of previous tenants? What happens to intact components that have been barely used? Ethically and ecologically, the answer can only be "recycling." As a general contractor with many years of expertise in tenant fit out, it is our task to explain, persuade, and inspire our clients, consultants, and other partners to follow this path. 

Road next to CISL construction site with people walking along pavement. Branding reads 'This is not your average building, but it needs to be'.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s new home isn’t your average building. But it needs to be.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), Cambridge, UK

Retrofitting our talent attraction strategy

Office investment remains prevalent since the transformational impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on contemporary working practices, with many discerning organisations continuing to prioritise high-quality facilities. This could help them in attracting top-rate talent and preparing for growth by scaling their square footage. 

Source: ISG’s wide angle ‘The power of place: The true cost of inaction’ (UK report)
This brings sharply into focus, that securing tenant demand requires not only the best performing stock, but also a local pipeline of talent to support their business operations. Our latest wide angle report “Rethinking the Skills conundrum” shows how planning applications and occupier data could help cement proactive regional workforce planning to bring certainty to decisions and draw further investment. If we consider investment opportunities and talent simultaneously, we could increasingly allow time to mobilise potential skills and labour supply. 

Bridging the skills gap in construction

With building maintenance and performance being core to investment decisions and operations – we need to build more ESG professionals across the built environment. Our report shows that 53% of young people and 63% of parents agreed that construction enabled the creation of more sustainable communities.  

Bar chart
Source: ISG’s wide angle ‘Rethinking the Skills conundrum’ (UK report) 

However, there remains a gulf in knowledge on the true range of roles available in the industry, construction’s key role in advancing technology, and the opportunities for career progression. Positioning our sector’s intrinsic link with the climate challenge – along with other important factors such as pace of innovation and technological advancements – must be capitalised to drive greater engagement in the fight for talent. With a wealth of career paths available in low carbon retrofit and sustainability more broadly, transforming industry perceptions will be crucial to helping us better position the built environment as a desirable avenue for future talent.

Collaborating partnerships to secure tomorrow's heritage today

We need to change the way we work together with owners and occupiers and rethink the skills we need. Within our own industry we're looking to build the skills base in these key economic heartlands to support our partners – advising up front to help them achieve first mover advantage and map their estate plans in achieving their net zero targets.

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