Skip to main content Skip to footer

Key themes from day two of the Sustainability Innovation Forum 2021

Blog 08 11 21 Sustainability forum cop26 hero

Ongoing dialogue of increasing complexity and comprehensiveness

Today Dr Walter Boettcher our Head of Research & Economics attended the second day of the Climate Action: Sustainability Innovation Forum in Glasgow which is running alongside the UN Climate Change Conference. Here Walter covers the key themes that have emerged from today’s forum.

Social justice: The opening session focused on how sustainability initiatives can be undertaken, while promoting justice and equality through distribution of the benefits. A wide range of interests were represented including experts addressing legal implications of climate change given there are winners and losers. Convincing questions may outnumber convincing answers, but social justice remains a stumbling block to any large-scale rollout of mitigation projects and investment in technology. A recurring theme at the Forum today is that systemic change is required, not marginal change. A final keynote for the social justice theme considered ‘movement capitalism’ -- a philosophy that seeks to promote private sector investment, innovation, entrepreneurship and competition, in alliance with global activism to achieve public goals. 

Built environment: A main event for Colliers today was Andres Guzman’s (Property Management’s Head of Sustainability) participation in the ‘Rising to the challenge of zero carbon buildings – a lifestyle approach’ panel.  He was accompanied by Trane Technologies, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and Microsoft. In response to a question, Andres emphasised the necessity of improvement in performance data by bringing landlords and tenants together and sharing data to facilitate benchmarking.  He also emphasised the need for a ‘net zero certification’ which according to the WGBC is in development. He also emphasised that transition would be achieved through retrofitting existing buildings, and he cited a few compelling statistics including the fact that most buildings standing in 2050 have already been built.

Other themes included full electrification of building systems, integration of heating/cooling into single energy efficient systems, as well as greater attention to direct building emissions, which have not yet been subject to regulations as, for example, auto emissions. Again the general point of agreement was that refrain, that we need step changes now, rather than incrementalism.

A bit of relevant ESG jargon: The ESG agenda has a substantial vocabulary of its own: circular economy, embedded carbon, supply chain ecosystems, regenerative systems, first mile, middle mile and last mile delivery, PP recycling, SDGs, SRI, PRI, triple bottom line, etc.  Perhaps of direct relevance to buildings in the context of understanding the route to ‘net zero’ are the terms Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.

  • Scope 1: Greenhouse gases that a building makes directly while running its boilers and cooling equipment, or other mechanical equipment

  • Scope 2: Indirect greenhouse gas emissions inherent in electricity use or other energy sources purchased to operate a building

  • Scope 3: Indirect emissions a company is responsible for due to inclusion in supply chains by purchasing products and equipment from suppliers, or by distributing its outputs. For buildings this would include, for example, the transport footprint of deliveries to sustain the building, as well as the businesses within.  This is hard to measure, but potentially the largest component of emissions. 


About the author:

Dr Walter Boettcher is our Head of Research & Economics with more than 20 years UK and European experience in the commercial real estate sector. He regularly participates in industry panel discussions, engaging with our wide range of clients, as well as providing commentary to the media. 

To contact Walter, email [email protected]

Related Experts

Walter Boettcher

Head of Research and Economics

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

As Head of Research and Economics at global property advisors Colliers based in London, I lead a team of researchers identifying timely research topics and directing research and forecasting outputs. I have 25+ years of UK and European property industry experience and extensive expertise across a wide range of sectors and related industries. I participate regularly in industry panel discussions, but am focused more on direct client engagement with institutions, property companies, banks, and private investors. A regular media commentator, I have a wide range of national publication and broadcast experience. I joined Colliers International in August 2007 after several years at a private property company where I was responsible for managing a mixed portfolio of London residential, retail and office assets. Previously, I worked in a few London property advisory firms, a geodemographic company as well as a few youthful sojourns in the US offshore oil industry, local government and entertainment business. I am an economics graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received a  PhD from the Faculty of Science at University College London.  I am a member of the London Property Economics Forum and  Society of Property Researchers.

Perhaps best known for my alternative take on property economics and investment, I am a keen proponent of UK regional development and infrastructure investment.

View expert