The more the world learns about climate change, the more we realise that we all have a part to play in halting it – and that extends to how we live, and our housing too. When it comes to greener living, it’s clear the public’s view is changing and they expect more from their homes, and the companies that provide them.
At Leaders Romans Group (LRG), we recently commissioned research to find out more about the demand for sustainable properties among house buyers and tenants. Unsurprisingly, their answers reveal that house buyers and homeowners now expect the industry to do more to make properties green and improve sustainability in the sector, but the degree of this expectation was overwhelming. Chief among our findings is that 70% of consumers want their property to be more eco-friendly, rising to 74% among 25-34-year-olds.
But it’s not just the views of consumers that those in the property services need to consider. Internal research among LRG staff revealed that 95% of our team find it personally important for the business they work for to be sustainable. This push for greener homes and more sustainability from those inside the industry, as well as from house buyers, is a loud and clear signal to the property industry that we need to reflect that sustainable ethos in our operations.
Responding to the call for greater sustainability in your operations
It's clear from the response I get when I speak to staff and new starters about our environmental initiatives, how invested they are in the opportunities sustainability brings. Our efforts to address it make them proud to work for our company, but importantly, I see they expect us, as an employer and a business, to respond to the call for greater sustainability in our operations. So, I believe, it’s our responsibility to make changes that will help address the climate crisis and encourage a greener approach to property.
One of the biggest concerns I hear from other leaders in property when I talk about sustainability is that it needs to be a big outset, in terms of change, or of cost. But that’s not what we’ve found in our approach. It starts with a first step. And choosing to take the sustainable choice at every small step that comes up along the way.
At LRG, our environmental committee leads efforts in this direction and our aim is to be carbon neutral by 2030. To do that, we have to review all elements of the business to make sure we’re making the green choice at every stage.
A good approach here is to choose the sustainable option for each service or resource as they reach the end of contracts, or end of life. In that way, we’ve now made sure all our sale boards are recycled and recyclable and are transferring all our energy suppliers to carbon-neutral alternatives as they come up.
And we’re putting something back into nature. We have recently partnered with GreenTheUK and the Royal Forestry Society to plant one tree for every house sold or let through the company. If we hit our targets, by the end of 2022, we will have planted 16 football pitches worth of trees.
We also have broader goals of course. We are looking to implement a gas boiler replacement system and even our first sustainable branch this year. As each of those branches also relies on a fleet of vehicles to travel to properties, we’re assessing adopting electric vehicles and shared bike schemes to reduce our use of fuel power across the business. But each of these schemes started with a small step.
I know others in our industry are already taking similar steps to make their organisations sustainable. If we start taking those measurable small steps together, the industry as a whole will get to green much faster.
Take your first step towards a green property world
But of course, initiatives like planting a tree are really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s about instilling a sustainable approach to everything we do as a business.
I consider embracing the green approach to be a bit like our experience through Covid. We always lived and worked in the same way, but then we had to make a change — embrace technology, flexible working and getting rid of the commute. It was a step-change, but now we’ve found positives in that approach. Humans are really adaptable creatures, but often we just need that reason to adjust. Well, the world that we live in is telling us we all need to adapt our approach to green business right now. The key point is to adapt.
With consumer and staff demand for sustainable homes on the rise, the property sector must act now. It’s not about making huge changes and shifting your entire network of branches to run on renewables overnight.
It’s about taking the measurable small steps and trackable progress today that can help lead us on the path to make the industry greener. I ask other leaders in the property to join me on that mission to build a more sustainable property industry. Why not take the first step today?
*David Wilson is the chief operating officer of Leaders Romans Group