Achieving net zero through green investment

Ummar Hanif

Ummar is Senior Investment Consultant at the UK Government Department for International Trade and the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF).

Recently the world has been experiencing extreme climate phenomena, from sudden forest fires in the US to flash flooding in the UK. But there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing that these ‘natural’ disasters are actually being instigated by human activity such as greenhouse gas emissions.
In the UK, real estate contributes to 42% of carbon emissions, and globally it’s almost 39%. Therefore, the built environment sector has a significant responsibility to drive change to prevent global warming.
Following COP26, the UK has seen a positive shift in investment activity from global investors who are now making their investment decisions in conjunction with ESG principles. This not only helps to mitigate carbon risk but also helps the sector to deliver more sustainable assets.
The Government has set a target of 2050 to be net zero, with Scotland looking to achieve this by 2045. One of the key ways in which this can be delivered is by reducing the energy that buildings consume. This means that asset managers, occupiers and companies need to drive energy optimisation across both existing assets and new buildings, as well as identify ways to use on-site renewable energy and ensure offsite energy is procured from renewable-backed sources.
The UK, like many other countries across the world, is beginning to see shifts toward Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). There are several reasons for this, including the drive to achieve net zero through the delivery of real estate. Simply, MMC (particularly offsite manufacturing) significantly reduces the time and energy spent on site, which subsequently reduces pollution on site.
MMC can deliver up to 40% reduction in HGV movement, as well as reducing travel for staff who are more likely to be geographically concentrated around a factory. It’s also common for materials in this sector to be reused, which increases lifespan and reduces waste.
Excitingly, the UK is becoming a hub for MMC innovation, so we hope to see future trends and shifts continuing to create a more sustainable investment market in the UK.
UKREiiF, The UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum, has a strong focus on sustainability – particularly net zero. This event, taking place in Leeds between May 17 and 19 this year, will be a showpiece for sustainable investment within the real estate and infrastructure sectors, with significant take-up from some of the world’s largest investors in green, clean and sustainable projects.