The Impact of ESG in the Real Estate Industry

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) has increasingly become an important factor to potential buyers and businesses across the real estate industry. As in many other industries, we’re seeing property owners and investors leaning into environmental and social consciousness.

According to Forbes, “Financial investors are more and more interested in sustainability and carbon footprints.” We spoke with a Real Estate professional that specializes in ESG and they agreed, “investors understand that ESG is tied to increasing firm wide value and lowering firm wide risk.”

Progress Across the Industry

The increase in ESG in real estate doesn’t just exist in the United States. “ESG funds now account for 10% of worldwide fund assets,” according to Reuters. The changes that are being made are simple but have substantial impacts. Some of these changes include incorporating greenery into workspaces, or having water bottle filling stations around the office along with having updated lighting with LED bulbs. All these basic internal changes allow businesses and properties to continue to lower emissions and grow the property value at the same time.

On the other hand, properties not protected from climate effects have seen a drop in value. An example from McKinsey that references the Journal of Urban Economics, “after Hurricane Sandy, housing prices were reduced by up to 8 percent in New York’s flood zones by 2017, reflecting a greater perception of risk by potential buyers. ”Another example was also mentioned where The McKinsey Global Institute performed a study involving coastal cities and potential flood risks. This study showed that the location of real estate would not be hindered but the path that the residents would have to take would be. That would result in many properties with no one to fill the space.

How Real Estate ESG Roles Work

“How do we heat homes without fossil fuels?” asked our real estate ESG expert. “In a net-zero world, how do we build more housing to ensure people aren’t homeless without carbon intensive materials?” Their answer: “To truly enact change we need to be able to tap the most creative and innovative minds and compete with the tech industry in doing so. The typical corporate culture in real estate needs an overhaul to compete for top talent and to create the environment where new ideas are embraced.”

This particular ESG professional is currently in a role that ideates and implements strategies for properties to create a better experience for both tenants and investors through various environmental and social efforts. One main way that these new ideas can flow across the workspace is the ability to communicate with other professionals in the industry. Brainstorming and implementing positive change not only helps the quality of life of the people on the ground but also protects the assets of the investors at the top.

A lot of feedback on the changes comes straight from the residents themselves. “We have been very focused on resident representation and voice,” said our expert. “We utilize resident ambassadors across our portfolio to help us understand the specific goals of residents living in our communities.”

Giving focus to the challenges of climate change and meaningful inclusion is going to continue to have a big impact on the property investments of the future. Moving towards a brighter tomorrow, property investment firms are embracing their obligation to help to take care of the planet their buildings are built on.

If you want to make a social and environmental impact through a career in ESG or DEI, reach out to one of our recruiters to get you started on your path.

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