Sustainability standards in property management – does the sector need a roadmap?
As all eyes are turning to Glasgow and the rescheduled COP26 conference in September, we are kicking off the new month, the new quarter and the new season, with the first in a series of articles about sustainability in the property management sector.
Throughout the quarter we’ll be taking a look at what’s happening already across the sector and we’ll offer up our thoughts on how the landscape might continue to evolve and develop.
We’re going to dive right in and think about what a sustainability roadmap or framework for the industry – where does it start, where to go and how to get there?
Where does sustainability start in the property management sector?
Wow, in with the big hitting questions already. As always with moving towards sustainability, it starts wherever it makes sense to and where it’s relatively easy to. Small wins lead to more small wins which eventually grow into bigger wins.
So sustainability in the sector might begin within the teams, offices and board rooms of property management companies. Training, professional development or small actions to start each business moving forward seems like a logical first step for those who aren’t already on board.
For those companies who are already on board with sustainability, the starting point has been and gone and it’s a matter of continuing along the path. Adding more, doing more and being the companies that others can look to for guidance.
But if the sector wants to (and needs to) make a contribution to hit carbon zero targets, does it make sense to put a roadmap in place that can be followed by all? If so, what would that roadmap look like?
The industry roadmap would allow all and any property management company to get involved at whichever point they are at.
We’ve done a little digging online and whilst there isn’t much that’s specific to residential property management, we’ve found some excellent resources that provide an excellent basis for our list of actions that can be taken by the sector.
We’ve pulled it together and created what we believe is a good starting point and certainly not exhaustive list of actions the industry can work towards.
You can access it here.
A one year sustainability roadmap might look a bit like this…
Start (0-3 months):
Introduce sustainability to the business. Simple internal changes such as organised waste bins; mugs and glasses instead of throwaway cups; having an informal team meeting or a lunch to discuss the topic and decide what could be brought in.
Whilst working on this, it would be prudent for the business to start identifying what would be the most obvious and easy sustainable measures to put in place across their portfolio.
Level 1 (3 – 6 months):
Now that everyone in the business is on board and action is already happening at the team level, the business can move on to continuing to add more measures within the business and to look at how it will begin to bring sustainable measures to the business as a whole.
This might be influenced by the portfolio of the business and what sustainable measures need to be put in place. It could also be looking at what contractors are doing week to week or month to month and how they might influence change in this area.
One easy starting point that is generally already in place industry wide, is to encourage as many clients to receive bills by email. This will cut down on paper. And also help cut down on postage costs!
What bulbs are being used in stairwells or outdoor lighting? Can these be changed to energy saving?
Are lights in stairwells always switched on? And if so, could motion sensors be installed to cut down on energy usage, saving client’s money on their bills also.
What kind of paint do contractors use? Could you request that they switch to environmentally friendly paints.
In the garden and park areas, are contractors using any kind of weed killer or pesticides? Could these be changed to insect friendly ones?
How are contractors managing waste? Particularly smaller ones.
Level 2 (6 – 12 months):
Review how the roll out is going. Identify what’s been achieved, what hasn’t been, what’s in progress and then decide how to move forward. Continue to add to the action plan as long as all achievements have been completed so far.
This is a very simplistic approach to implementing sustainability within your organisation. There are many approached that could be taken. For example, rather than levels, there could be standards, bronze, silver gold. Or there could be set of specific sustainability targets. Whatever the roadmap looks like, the property management industry has an opportunity to influence a sustainable future, and to influence healthier lives for clients.
Has your property management company implemented sustainability standards or initiatives?
References for our sustainability list from