Environmental and Social Sustainability Goals in Real Estate Decision-making

Towards the end of 2021, CBRE conducted a survey of some of its clients in the UK to establish the ‘state of play’ on the full range of environmental and social sustainability issues that the real estate industry is being asked to tackle – including climate change, biodiversity, pollution, waste, health and wellbeing, and responsible business.

220 of CBRE’s UK clients responded, including a wide range of the UK's largest investors, housebuilders, occupiers, lenders and infrastructure providers. Respondents make decisions about a wide range of real estate types including office, industrial/logistics, residential and retail property – and usually more than one type. Although a UK led survey, most of these clients are also operating across Continental Europe, with the findings and results considered generally relevant across the whole region.

Key findings

Driven by organisational values, regulation and brand positioning, respondents’ strategies have good coverage of climate change and health issues – but there are other gaps.

Sustainability is being factored into real estate decisions – but not all the time and sustainability factors are more likely to be underweighted than overweighted in these decisions.

The big challenges which clients said they face are practical: data, cost and complexity. Uncertainty about future regulatory or social trends was not seen to be a major barrier, suggesting that clients know broadly what it is they need to do – the difficulty is lack of adequate or good quality data and the cost and complexity of doing it.

The biggest environmental priorities for real estate decision-makers were cutting energy and water use, and securing sustainability-related certifications.

Today’s climate change decisions in real estate are focusing on regulation, improving the flow of data and adaptation.

Among social issues, avoiding controversial counterparties was the biggest concern for clients in their decisions – bigger than the rather more frequently-discussed issue of health and wellbeing through building design.

Occupiers were slightly more willing than landlords to pay the full cost of environmental improvements to buildings – and much more willing when it came to reducing waste and water consumption, suggesting potential for a genuine ‘green premium’ relating to these types of building improvements.

Although clients told us that regulation was much less of a driver for their sustainability strategies than their own values and purpose as an organisation, simply complying with environmental regulations turned out to be a much bigger pre-occupation in practice.


Based on the report findings, CBRE advise:

Many respondents had gaps in strategies which make it more difficult to justify action.

Mismatches of understanding between landlords and occupiers suggest that collaboration and communication will continue to be important.

While processes for making decisions are increasingly taking wider factors into account, those factors are not taken into account systematically enough.

Firms mostly know that they have to take action. But getting the right data, reducing the complexity of decisions, and better understanding the balance of costs and benefits are now crucial tasks.

Nordic Valuation & Advisory Services Team

Nordic Valuation & Advisory Services Team

The CBRE Nordics Valuation Team combine valuation expertise with deep market knowledge within the world’s largest real estate broker to form a unique web of property information, data and experience spanning your country, region and continent.

Christopher Bailey is an Executive Director and Head of Valuation & Advisory services in Denmark & The Nordics. As well as leading operations in Denmark and The Nordics, he is also a member of the CBRE EMEA Executive Committee group for the valuation business line, representing The Nordics. He is responsible for valuations of all types of commercial property, as well as providing consulting on international investment and property interests. As well as an accredited Mortgage Lending Valuer (Pfandbrief), he has also contributed to several study workshops and papers in Denmark on valuation practices, methodology and guidelines as well as being a co-author to the American Appraisal Institute’s latest edition of Real Estate Valuation in Global Markets.

Mobile phone: +45 2887 1239
Email: christopher.bailey@cbre.com

Daniel Holmkvist is an Executive Director and Head of Valuation & Advisory services in Sweden. As well as leading operations in Sweden as a member of the Senior Management Team. He is responsible for valuations of all types of commercial property, as well as providing consulting on international investment and property interests. During the last three years, he has conducted a central advisory role in several large asset and portfolio valuations, feasibility studies and consulting services for all types of commercial property interests, both for investors and various banking institutes.

Mobile phone: +46 70-979 27 71
Email: daniel.holmkvist@cbre.com

Olli Kantanen is Head of Valuation and Advisory Services in Finland undertaking and overseeing a wide variety of property valuations with over 14 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. He is responsible for the day to day management of the CBRE Finland valuation team and he participates in several periodic and “one-off” valuations for property companies. Olli’s current role involves valuing all types of commercial properties throughout Finland, including both individual assets and portfolios.

Mobile phone: +358 50 5400 805
Email: olli.kantanen@cbre.com

Martijn Kooman is Head of Valuation at CBRE Norway and is responsible for valuations of all types of commercial property. Martijn has over 10 years of experience working in finance and real estate. Martijn has been with CBRE since 2014 and moved in 2021 from The Netherlands to Norway. Before joining CBRE he worked for a real estate bank and an institutional real estate investor.

Mobile phone: +47 940 28 963
Email: martijn.kooman@cbre.com

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