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One step closer to 2030: What progress still needs to be made to achieve our net zero goals?

We sat down with our CEO and Co-Founder, Mike Darby, to explore where the built environment currently is, what progress still needs to be made and how technology will pave the way towards a net zero future. 

We’re almost halfway through the decade - This means we’re now only six years away from the 2030 net zero targets which aim to reduce carbon emissions by 68% when compared to 1990 levels. How are we doing as a country concerning the commercial built environment?

Whilst there have been steps in the right direction and a lot of ambition, there isn’t enough action at the moment. We need to move faster. There’s a lot of recognition of this across the board, including from the Climate Change Committee, the UN 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and more recently the UK Green Building Council.

Back in 2018, I spoke at the Silicon Roundabout around the time when the special IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was released. It gave us 11 years to change direction, and I speculated on how quickly the industry would move. We’re now halfway there and we’re still not paying attention.

How do you expect discussions around ESG and decarbonisation in the built environment will develop?

A lot of focus in ESG has been on reporting and there have been new and varied ways of creating analysis detailing intentions and plans and how companies are doing at the moment. However, the time for reporting is up and we need action. 

What I want to see in the discussion is for everyone in the built environment to demonstrate improvement and that they're making continuous progress. All projects that save carbon will slip back operationally if they do not consistently monitor performance - it’s a known and widely documented phenomenon. 

What actions should 2024 witness?

We need some leadership on transparency; seeing key stakeholders take the lead, showing what they're doing and how they're doing it successfully. At the same time, they need to encourage others to join and for them to be equally transparent, demonstrating how best-in-class building operations can deliver good services and have a significant carbon impact as well.

Where would you like the UK commercial property industry to be by the end of 2024?

I would like the industry to be excited, motivated and confident. Property management often has a complex - arguably over-complex - organisational structure. We often see ‘diluted responsibility’, where no one is taking ownership and it’s always someone else’s problem.

I want the property industry to be more aligned with all of the different parties working together with a shared ambition, empowered by insight and clarity on what they want and have to do. That’s frequently the problem; they don’t have that clarity. 

What regulations do you think should be introduced to ensure we reach 2050 goals? 

I'd like to see some enforcement of tighter regulation, particularly regarding operational carbon emissions. Perhaps where everyone has to report their carbon emissions not just annually, but in near real-time from their properties.

Increasingly, tenants want this level of detail. If, for example, a tenant in a multi-level co-working space asks what the carbon impact of their demise is, most landlords won’t know - it’s actually quite hard to accurately attribute operational carbon emissions to a small part of a larger property. The landlord will instead talk about their ambitions. So regulations that give that granular level of transparency are needed. 

Has the UK Government done enough to support Property Owners and Facilities Managers in the transition to net zero? What else can they do?

More needs to be done to push for action. Back in October, we joined over 100 businesses in signing the UK Green Building Council’s letter to the Government calling on them to provide a strong net zero policy.

For larger Property Owners and Facilities Managers, it's not necessarily about Government support and I think they should be taking the initiative themselves. I expect it’s harder for SMEs who have fewer human resources, and aren’t able to explore what's available and how to decarbonise.

Properties that need significant capital expenditure to get them up to speed certainly benefit from increased grants or lower cost financing. Also, a review of the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme to include more technology would help.

What role will technology play in the future of the built environment? 

Technology is intrinsic to a successful operating building; looking at those delivering the best internal environment whilst also having the lowest carbon impact. It improves human resource efficiency and also brings transparency. 

I'd like to encourage you, the reader, to think about your own experiences and questions about the building you work in. How is it performing? In most cases, no one's going to have the answer to that because it is so opaque. That’s where technology can really help - making it clear what’s happening, what needs to be done and how to keep on top of it. 

How can Demand Logic help? 

At Demand Logic, we are helping building teams to save energy, improve maintenance and increase comfort for tenants. 

Our Building Operational Performance Score uses data from the vast majority of energy-consuming components in a building. As an operational performance index, this informs you of the performance of the building within the constraints of its fabric and its currently installed equipment. But the score is not the end of the story - it guides building operators to the root causes of poor performance and gets them fixed.

To find out more about our technology, please contact us via email or call +44 20 7193 4212.