Editor: For environmental, social and governance (ESG) practitioners, the battle for hearts and minds is only just beginning.


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Shaking off the tired stereotypes of sustainability, the ESG movement breathes new life into how we measure and manage the impact of real estate.

Beyond the fundamental property management considerations of minimising waste and improving buildings’ energy efficiency, the move towards a holistic ESG approach also means addressing fundamental concepts of health and wellbeing.

As social value gains legitimacy in boardrooms and business strategies, we can look beyond optimising building management systems and LED fit-outs, and focus instead on the impact of buildings on how we live, work and interact as communities.

Communities demanding a better built environment are doing for social value what climate change did for sustainability many years ago: demonstrated the irrefutable commercial necessity for better standards and practices, and kept it top of the agenda.

So far so good, as the British Property Federation prepares to publish the first annual social value report in 2020, as part of its campaign to redefine real estate and shift negative perceptions. This will go a long way in helping to formalise and normalise social value considerations for the sector.

As a manager of retail, leisure and workspace property across the UK, we believe the social pillar of ESG has a profound impact on promoting business and operational efficiency. This is manifested in how we attract and retain better human capital, manage reputational risk and build trust with stakeholders as well as better supply chains.

More than just a catchy corporate label, ESG is a powerful tool that urges innovation and improvement and by embedding best practices into core business and investment strategies can have a profound impact on staff retention, returns and the resilience of our sector.

Vicky Cotton, sustainability and wellbeing director, Workman