For many organisations, the property they occupy is not seen as the fundamental tool it can be in achieving their environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives.

William Scott

William Scott

While many might consider a property as only relevant to ESG’s ‘E’ in respect of its operational carbon contribution, it is also fundamental to the ‘S’ and the ‘G’, as it provides the space in which organisations operate. Its proper management is fundamental to good governance. A property strategy can be a helpful tool to help make an organisation’s ESG objectives achievable.

A properly constituted property strategy identifies where in the lifecycle of the property your organisation sits and provides a timeline from there to the point of disposal, identifying any alterations and improvements required, so they can be carried out in as effective manner as possible.

The time and cost required to alter a building for an organisation to hit its ESG targets and net zero goals – coupled with the related reporting requirements (both from a sustainability and a corporate social responsibility perspective) – can routinely be seen as being in adverse proportion to the rising expectations we have from our buildings.

But even for the most sceptical who see anything ESG related as greenwashing, the financial, social and environmental benefits to organisations, their staff and society are clearly tipping in favour of buildings that are more energy efficient, have lower operating costs and provide flexible, well-designed spaces in which employees can meet and work together.

An ESG-focused property strategy identifies the organisation’s objectives for carbon reduction, use of space and environmental and social requirements, placing these within the lifecycle of the property and the legal matrix of what can be done, then setting this within a realistic, workable timeframe.

A property strategy that does not incorporate and support the occupier’s ESG strategy is one that risks increasing costs rather than managing them effectively.

Will Scott is a partner in the real estate disputes team at Irwin Mitchell