Sustainable heads at investor Prupim and developer Hammerson point to the need for hard figures to embed environmentalism in the market
Leading sustainable figures in the property industry have pointed to the urgent need for more evidence to prove that sustainability can lead to higher returns and greater productivity for building users.
Paul Cornes, head of sustainability at investment and property management firm Prupim, and Paul Edwards, sustainability director at Hammerson, made the plea at a discussion organised by the Think08 event last week.
Cornes, whose firm launched a sustainable property fund called the Improver Portfolio earlier this year, said: “We are trying to make a link between sustainability and value. That’s a very difficult link to make.”
He added that his firm’s new fund would attempt to prove that a business model exists “that shows investment in sustainable buildings gives you an acceptable rate of return”.
We are trying to make a link between sustainability and value. That’s a very difficult link to make
Paul Cornes, Prupim
Paul Edwards from Hammerson said proof was need to persuade agents and valuers of the benefits of green buildings. “Value is not yet seen,” he said. “It’s the biggest block (to sustainability).”
Edwards added that proving productivity amongst office workers would improve in a green building was “the Holy Grail”. “If I could prove that I would be very wealthy,” he said. “If you could go to the JP Morgans of the world and proof that their workers were 10-15% more productive (in sustainable buildings) you could put any wind turbines you want on the building.”
Both bosses agreed that getting smaller office and retail tenants interested in sustainability was a massive challenge. “We find it incredibly difficult to engage with tenants, even if it’s in their interests,” said Cornes.