Why data is at the heart of real estate ESG efforts
Who isn’t interested in boosting their ESG capabilities these days? If your firm isn’t tracking these important metrics on Environment, Society, and Government already, it probably soon will be. That’s because a large (and increasingly substantial) number of property investors and occupiers are concerned with doing right for the wider world, not just the bottom line.
Regardless of property type, ESG factors are important things to consider. Office properties need to ensure that they are keeping their buildings highly sustainable, wellness-oriented, productive, and responsible to community members and stakeholders alike. Industrial properties, while not as concerned with productivity, have similar considerations. Retail spaces need to be particularly attractive and pleasant to keep their visitor streams happy, and multifamily properties have an incredible need to keep occupiers healthy and satisfied, since their residents tend to spend so many hours of each day on site. The best amenities in the world don’t amount to much if your occupiers don’t trust their space to keep them healthy.
But while the need for attention to ESG metrics is tangible for professionals all across the commercial real estate business, from office to apartment, understanding how to implement an ESG plan can be more challenging. Together with all the other non-ESG specific metrics managers and owners need to track, just getting a sense of where to start can be difficult.
There are a large number of ways to optimize the ESG components of a commercial real estate business. On the “E” side, more sustainable materials, attention to waste management and recycling, and energy-efficient appliances make a big impact. On the “S” front, keeping the air clean and ensuring that all spaces are effectively accessible are important. And for the “G,” compliance with all governmental regulations as well as taking measures to make reporting efficient as easy are very important as well.
These are just a few of the many dozens of strategies owners can take to make their properties more ESG focused. But regardless of what measures are taken, the first step owners should really take in many cases is to make sure all their property data is easily viewable on demand.
Without a strong approach to data representation, actually deciding what responses are appropriate will be harder at best, or completely misguided at worst. You wouldn’t consider a property investment without first analyzing all the data about the market, economy, demographics, and competitors, so why sink time, money, and effort into improving your property ESG game without keeping track of all the relevant signals first?
"Data transparency is often a goal in and of itself that owners can pursue to satisfy occupiers, investors, and governments alike."
There are other benefits to a strong data collection apparatus as well, especially when it comes to environmental building data. Constantly tracking these metrics makes it easier to share information with occupiers who increasingly want to see the data behind their landlords’ claims that spaces are efficient and environmentally friendly. This can benefit both leasing and retaining existing tenants. In fact, data transparency is often a goal in and of itself that owners can pursue to satisfy occupiers, investors, and governments alike.
Beginning the new property investment research process requires access to a variety of tools and databases which themselves have their own procurement process, and which often need to be double-checked for accuracy. Collecting all the property data to feed into an ESG plan is not easy without the right tools, either. It’ll often require a range of different sensors for things like energy use, waste generation, indoor air quality, occupancy, and temperature, as well as a digital infrastructure to ensure that all this data from so many sensors is kept consistent and accurate, and a dashboard or front end to make the raw data easily usable.
This is where Spaceflow’s new FLOW solution comes in. We developed FLOW in conjunction with Flowbox, a leading building digitization company. This new platform is an easy-to-use dashboard which allows owners and managers to track all of your data: energy consumption, air quality, access points, cameras, and occupancy.
Centralizing all this data differentiates properties, allows managers to be more transparent with different FLOW access types available to property stakeholders from occupiers to investors, and provides the ideal opportunity to launch an ESG effort, whether you plan to dip your toes or go all-in, and maybe even pursue a prestigious property certification. Launching an ESG effort in the dark, without data, is begging for failure. Don’t go in blind!