Following legislative changes such as the Environment Act 2021 and mandatory inclusions within recent updates to the key Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Global Red Book, it’s clear environmental and social governance (ESG) has become more important to the real estate industry than ever before.

Property managers are now responsible for implementing the physical changes to improve environmental and social performance and spending tenants’ and landlords’ money to achieve that. So it’s critical they get it right, not only to justify the expenditure through funds and/or service charges but also to improve the value of their assets and demonstrate they are doing the right thing. We’re here to help them rise to that challenge.

The changes are what you could call a ‘perfect storm of environmental and social responsibility’ for the sector, with there now being clear expectations of managing agents and facilities managers to better understand ESG. Alongside all the internal building management systems they will need to monitor and ensure perform to a more sustainable level, they increasingly need to factor in their facilities’ external characteristics as well.

And it’s not just a question of making sure their facilities include environmental qualities that improve value. They are also responsible for making sure they have the right suppliers who understand the impact they will have on the management of the building. Working in partnership with a trusted supply chain now is more crucial to achieving mutual success.

On the back of the Global Red Book update, the Better Building Partnerships produced a Responsible Property Management Toolkit to help guide managing agents through the new environmental risk, social value and supply chain management requirements. Essentially, it means managing agents need to take more responsibility for the environmental impact they have and what they're doing to manage that on behalf of the landlord. It includes everything from improving air and water quality down to the chemicals used for grounds maintenance, where waste is stored, how it’s separated and whether invasive species such as Japanese knotweed are treated properly. It’s an awful lot more to think about than before, but it’s also an opportunity for them to differentiate themselves within the market and show that, by taking responsibility for it, they are making a positive difference.

While we are still learning too and are by no means a magic bullet for managing agents, there are many areas where we can help ease the extra pressure. From producing ecology surveys and making biodiversity improvements to responsible tree-felling, Ground Control can help managing agents take greater responsibility for ESG and position themselves ahead of their competition. We work with clients and gather feedback from them on what is making a difference and what really drives positive environmental and social change so we can continue to improve our offer.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, from the equipment we use to the vehicles we drive and the suppliers we work with. We’re also walking the talk, investing 5% of our annual net profits in environmental initiatives and carbon sequestration. Facilities managers are likely to be at the forefront of efforts to improve sustainability within the real estate industry and we’re committed to helping them rise to that challenge.