| 1°C Dublin

Sustainability is moving from an industry niche to the mainstream

The Right Moves

Close

'Agents can improve their chances of winning pitches by adding specialist external expertise, which can also be done by partnering with another firm.' (stock photo)

'Agents can improve their chances of winning pitches by adding specialist external expertise, which can also be done by partnering with another firm.' (stock photo)

'Agents can improve their chances of winning pitches by adding specialist external expertise, which can also be done by partnering with another firm.' (stock photo)

It's always interesting when estate agents add new services, and after decades of little change, there has been a transformation in recent years. Sometimes the change is caused by evolution; for example, the traditional "industrial market" is now, largely "logistics". Other trends cross the Atlantic and some agents describe parts of their investment business as "capital markets".

Other services, such as pubs and hotels and nursing homes and healthcare have moved from being niche offerings into mainstream service lines. Adding specialist expertise is a positive branding move in itself and is a great way of differentiating yourself from competitors. Agents can improve their chances of winning pitches by adding specialist external expertise, which can also be done by partnering with another firm. Examples I have seen helping to win pitches include offering HR and project management services to developers and occupiers going through transformational change.

One master-stroke by colleagues at my former firm, Savills, was to employ a fashion expert throughout the boom in shopping centre development. Whilst chartered surveyors may be knowledgeable on rents and footfalls, they know little about up and coming international fashion brands and exactly the right mix of occupiers for particular demographics. With most of the shopping centres being fashion-led, it was a practical speciality and a huge differentiator.

Another example is BidX1 who employ solicitors to ease the conveyancing process.

I was interested to see that CBRE has opened a specialist sustainability department, joining agents such as Savills and JLL in providing that service. I spoke with Rachael McGinley who has returned from Australia to head up the department. Ms McGinley worked as a structural engineer in London for eight years and then took on a role with the Green Building Council of Australia for six years where she helped develop their sustainability rating tool.

Ms McGinley told me that she has spent most of her time since August working with the CBRE departments as "sustainability is done best when it's part of the job, and not just an add-on. Whether it's reducing a development's carbon-emissions or improving the impact on the community, it's important to be there at the start of the project".

She pointed out that there are far more existing buildings than new developments and much of her work will be advising on more efficient property management leading to upgrades or retro-fitting. Reducing carbon emissions "is a big issue for portfolio owners," she told me, "and the next couple of years will be focused on helping clients get as close to zero-carbon emissions, as possible".

The pandemic has seen the health and wellbeing pillar of sustainability come to the fore. "People still want to come to the office," Ms McGinley said, "so we have to make collaboration as safe as it can be". This need is seeing her working closely with the firm's property management department as they advise clients on return to work strategies", including re-configuring buildings, increasing space, cleaning, and health and safety work.

Ms McGinley believes that we are largely still in a "reactive phase" to the pandemic but she believes that these health and wellness factors will begin influencing the design of new buildings from next year.

The more sustainable a building is, the more attractive it is to tenants and the higher its value. Sustainability in property is here to stay.

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of business.

This field is required


Most Watched





Privacy