Future Cities - Africa Green Building Summits 2024
  • May 16, 2023
  • futureci
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by Maama Adeshina (Green Building and Sustainability Consultant)

The real estate industry plays a crucial role in addressing climate change and achieving environmental sustainability goals. As the world rapidly urbanizes, the pressure on land and its resources intensifies, especially in developing nations like Nigeria. This increased demand for land has led to environmental challenges that urgently need to be addressed. To ensure a sustainable future, the real estate sector must incorporate sustainable practices that meet social, economic, and ecological demands.

The Triple Bottom Line. To achieve sustainable real estate projects, it is essential to follow globally-accepted development standards. These standards revolve around the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) or 3BL, which encourages organizations to consider social and environmental factors, in addition to financial ones, when measuring success of a project. It allows the adoption of a holistic and balanced view of a project’s success, acknowledging the need to make a profit, while taking into account the full range of a development’s impacts on society and the environment. By adhering to these principles, real estate professionals and their clients can make strides towards sustainable development, ensuring that projects are not just profitable, but also positive for the world.

The Role of Sustainability Indicators. Sustainability indicators play a critical role in guiding real estate professionals towards creating a more sustainable built environment. Properly used, they can help to quantify and evaluate the overall sustainability of a project by providing tools that measure the economic, environmental, and social impact in the design and development choices. At the project scale, sustainability indicators might include metrics like energy saved through efficiency measures, the percentage of disadvantaged or marginalized persons employed on the project, and the economic impact of the development on the local community. They can therefore serve as important benchmarks for constructing sustainable buildings and ensuring the profitability of real estate investments. By assessing, recording, and managing sustainability indicators, real estate professionals can contribute to the attainment of sustainable development goals.

Adapting to Change and Preparing for the Future. To succeed, while making a positive impact, it is imperative for the real estate industry to adapt and incorporate sustainable practices. Professionals in the built environment must learn from the past, adapt to the present, and anticipate the needs of future generations. To successfully accomplish this, real estate practitioners and their clients must take into account global trends, like climate resilience, smart technology, urbanization and demographic change, evolving living and work patterns, rising significance of lifestyle and wellness issues, and the need for adaptive reuse. All these considerations present both challenges and opportunities for real estate developers. Those who can successfully adapt to these trends will be well-positioned to succeed in the real estate market of the future.

Embracing Sustainable Property Management. Estate managers must be prepared to embrace sustainable property management practices to ensure that building assets are operated and maintained in ways that respect economic, environmental, and social factors. It is about balancing the need for profitability with a commitment to sustainability, by adopting property management practices that incorporate considerations like energy use and costs, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable purchasing, healthy indoor environments, and tenant and community engagement. Research suggests that in addition to being crucial to the creation of a sustainable built environment, practices such as these result in reduced costs, improved tenant satisfaction and loyalty, and increased property values, amongst other benefits.

Final Thoughts. Sustainability in real estate is no longer optional—it is a necessity. By adopting the Triple Bottom Line approach, using sustainability indicators, and embracing sustainable property management practices, the real estate industry can pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future. Together, we can build a world that meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

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