Cutting carbon is crucial, but we also need to focus on how to improve the things we can’t directly control. We headed to Brighton last month for new property conference Footprint+. The event largely focused on how the property industry can improve its carbon footprint from infrastructure development, which is a hugely important conversation.

Johnny Caddick

Johnny Caddick

But there is another strand of sustainability that will stay with long-term rental living operators long after the final brick is laid in any development, and which needs more airtime: the question of how to bring residents on the net zero carbon journey with us.

How residents behave directly affects our ability to hit our targets; without them on board, that net zero goal is unattainable. And in the midst of a global climate emergency, it’s not enough if they just want to appear to be green. It is imperative that we drive major and long-lasting behavioural changes now.

So, what’s the plan? We think there are two key steps: making it as easy as possible for residents to make changes to help them live sustainably and use their homes efficiently; and then encouraging green behaviours and intentions.

Proptech will play a central role in this, and it’s crucial to make sure the provider you work with is right for your operation. All Moda homes are equipped with Utopi sensors that measure environmental factors including temperature, air quality and energy usage. A new service we’re rolling out across our portfolio, from prime city centre areas to single-family homes under our Casa by Moda brand, will give residents access to this data in real time, enabling them to check how their space is performing.

For the second piece of the puzzle, encouraging engagement with data that residents have access to, gamification of this technology will go a long way for single-family housing and build-to-rent operators. Our residents will be able to (anonymously) track where their sustainability ranks in their neighbourhoods, which has many applications for incentives to drive engagement.

The cost-of-living crisis will also make it necessary for residents to reduce their energy consumption, as people look to cut spending on rising utility bills. Technology has a role to play here: if residents have access to real-time data about their property, they can track its energy usage through the day and identify hotspots for costs. Our platform with Utopi and Spike Global also provides tips on little changes that could have a big cost impact. For long-term operational businesses, this sort of technology will be key to driving net zero plans.

Moda’s goal is to hit net zero operational carbon by 2030 across our living platforms. For us and the entire rental living sector, significant effort must go into bringing residents on that journey with us. Conversations about carbon cutting in the built environment will remain crucial. But innovation and cross-business collaboration on long-term operation of those environments is just as important, if not more so, because that will affect our portfolios and planet for as long as the buildings stand.

Johnny Caddick is chief executive of Moda Living