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How to start taking steps towards net zero

Blog How to start taking steps towards net zero hero

Throughout the two weeks of COP26, the clear and overwhelming message was that it is time to take action and to “just get started”.

However, with a wave of regulatory and legislative changes on the horizon, getting started can seem a daunting prospect to many. So how can we start to reduce the real estate industry’s impact on the environment, right now?

Understand your carbon emissions baseline

To understand where you are going, you need to understand where you are today and the historic and current energy consumption at your asset is a good starting point.

Where possible, install a sub-meter to measure your occupiers’ direct energy consumption, collect historic energy consumption where available, review whole building EPCs and understand how water and waste are managed at your building.

This baseline information will be critical to informing a sustainability audit or sustainability action plan. If it can be measured, it can be managed, so start capturing that data!

Intervention dates, not lease dates 

Historically, the typical response to a lease event or expiry has been to agree a renewal or letting as quickly as possible. However, with the upcoming 2023 and 2030 EPC deadlines, we need to change the mindset on these no longer simply being lease dates, but intervention dates – a point in time where interventions can be made to improve your asset’s energy efficiency.

One of the most critical interventions relates to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) that account for 17% of global emissions. This will be particularly relevant if your asset has a gas boiler.

When next reviewing your tenancy schedules, take note of whether you have any intervention dates between now and 2030 to upgrade your heating to renewable sources or consider introducing green lease clauses.

Review your supply chain's emissions

If your business has, or intends to make a net zero commitment, it is important to note that your supply chain will make up a considerable part of your “Scope 3” emissions. Ensure your entire procurement process, either directly or via your property managers, is aligned to measuring and reducing the environmental impact of your supply chain. This can be done through supplier selection, sustainability and social value duties in contracts, to specific SLAs which measure carbon footprint.

As Cristina Gamboa, CEO of the World Green Building Council, quoted at COP26 “transparency and visibility are the greatest assets for sector transformation”. Open and early conversations between landlord and occupier surrounding their sustainability goals will be paramount in reducing the built environment’s impact on our climate. These discussions could include occupiers using landlord procured waste management, EPC contractors or certified green energy providers. And in return, landlords need to ensure they create visibility of the positive contribution occupiers are making through reduced emissions or waste statistics for their own sustainability reporting.

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About the author
Holly Brown is Head of Client Strategy in our investment property management she works to drive business development and enhance our service offering to key clients.

To contact Holly, email

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Holly Brown

Head of Client Strategy

Investment Property Management

London - West End

Holly is a Director in the Investment Property Management (IPM) team and  Head of Client Strategy. She works with IPM and National Capital Markets to drive business development and client management and enhance our service offering for our key clients.  

Holly graduated from the University of Reading with First Class Honours in 2011 and qualified as a chartered surveyor in 2013 at niche hotel investment firm, Gerard Nolan and Partners. 

Holly joined CBRE's High Street Retail Investment team in 2014, and transitioned into their Client Care team in 2016 to develop the Retail & Institutional Investors Client Care programmes. 



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