Next week, young climate advocates from across the world will take part in the Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition event in Milan, Italy (28-30 September).
Building on the success of the 2019 UN Youth Climate Summit, almost 400 young people from 197 member countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be provided with an unprecedented platform to express themselves and share ideas.
While feelings of anxiety and concern about climate change are said to be widespread among young people, they are also matched by a growing determination to change the course of history. Impassioned youth activists, including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate who are both attending the event, have captured the world’s attention with school walkouts, protests and inspirational speeches to world leaders that sound the alarm and urge us to take responsibility for our actions.
What is often overlooked is that passionate young people are also spread across every single sector – from energy companies to law firms, to manufacturing and commercial real estate – and are eager to have their companies join the fight against climate change. It is therefore quite common that internal sustainability initiatives are led by young people, hungry for an opportunity to make their workplace a safe, sustainable haven and to get more people involved in tackling the climate crisis.
Office buildings waste millions in avoidable energy bills every year and while we are pushing to address this through how we design and build, we are not doing nearly enough to take responsibility for our own behaviours.
Introducing the CUBE Competition, which is the first step employers can take to help change how we behave in the workplace to make energy savings in an engaging and fun way that gets all employees involved and united by a goal that will help mitigate the impact of climate change.
Sustainability is a huge driver for young employees and the benefits of running a climate-positive business are clear, but behaviour change is one of the most difficult aspects of tackling emissions in the commercial real estate sector.
But there is a huge opportunity to make a significant difference. Our partners have been running CUBE in France for six years, delivering energy and equivalent annual cost savings of between 12% and 55% for the likes of BNP Paribas and Orange, through simple interventions and without significant investment.
We believe we need to look at net zero carbon as a responsibility and also as an investment that will pay back future generations.
Kristin Marin is sustainability consultant and CUBE programme manager