April 20, 2021

Sustainable Buildings in the shadow of COVID-19

COVID-19 has not shifted focus away from sustainable buildings. More than 90% of respondents in our latest Sustainable Buildings Market Study state that sustainability is important for a successful business operation.

Bridge the knowledge gap and provide actionable insight

COVID-19 and the real-estate industry

With the outbreak of COVID-19, many global actors in the real estate industry were forced to focus on managing the immediate consequences of lockdowns, such as interrupted contracts and managing the spread of the pandemic amongst building users, whilst the fear of a long-lasting recession loomed. 87% of the respondents believe the pandemic will affect long-term work patterns and that more people will work from home in the future.

Carbon neutrality a strategic priority and resilience towards climate risk

UK, Germany and Finland are front runners in relation to carbon neutrality in the real estate industry according to the 2021 survey results. 56% of respondents in UK and 40% of respondents in Finland state that they have “net zero carbon buildings” embedded in their business strategy. However, more than a third of the respondents identified lack of technical knowledge as a barrier to delivering on the strategy. The survey also found that more than 30% of the respondents identified the lack of general understanding of the sustainability agenda as a barrier to incorporating sustainability issues into their organisation.

Lack of template for circular strategies

Our survey shows that a shift is happening from a linear mindset towards a more circular paradigm. More than half of the respondents consider circularity in their projects, either by embedding circular principles in the project execution or in the tendering material. There is no template for designing a building with circular principles. For circularity to gain impact in the real estate industry, 42% of respondents said that national regulation was necessary.

Sustainability is about holistic design, assessing each initiative from various perspectives to find the context’s best setup. Certification schemes are holistic design platforms, shedding light on the interconnectivity between one subject and another. Respondents were asked to indicate which third-party certification schemes and tools they know, have used or are going to use. The responses show a large variety, strongly dependent on the country of origin, but overall BREEAM remains the preferred certification in the 2021 survey.