Argent’s head of sustainability says we must not look past asset management

There is no doubt that the next five to 10 years will be crucial in delivering net zero carbon cities, towns, and assets. This is no longer a choice; we must start that journey right now if we’re to stand a chance of reaching the 2050 targets. Our future generations depends on it.

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Asset management plays a fundamental role here. While we are celebrating the progress being made in delivering new net zero carbon buildings, we should not forget that getting under the bonnet of how we deliver net zero on existing buildings is the real challenge, given that 80% of the buildings we’ll be using in 2050 have already been built. Understanding the capital required for retrofitting and executing this in an economically just way are just some of the difficulties encountered by our industry.

However, if we play this right, retrofitting existing buildings could grow the green economy and increase the number of jobs. The green shoots of this have been seen in the growth of the proptech industry, triggering new skills in this area. The well-established ‘performance gap’ is what’s still holding many buildings back from becoming net zero. Understanding how your buildings are performing in terms of their energy consumption is therefore vital - annual meter readings are just not sufficient anymore.

Managing buildings with data will mean much greater efficiency in the long run. The building management systems at King’s Cross do exactly that. We receive data every 15 minutes on how our buildings are performing. That data is then analysed by data scientists and engineers who can see if something isn’t working, for example if an occupier has cooling and heating on in their building simultaneously. And this isn’t just about net zero – the systems should also be performing in an optimal way to create environments for employees to be at their most productive.

Pair this with an economy that is prioritising sustainable capital and green loans and it’s clear to see that the opportunities are there. It’s now up to the industry to seize upon them and make the most of the next few years. For the first time in my career, the stars are aligned for developers and asset managers to make a real go at net zero, delivering a robust legacy for future generations.

Claudine Blamey is head of sustainability and digital strategy at Argent