Reimagining real estate: Achieving a sustainable & just recovery

Our new report outlines three priority areas for the real estate sector as we adjust to the new world and reimagine the decade ahead.

August 31, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has shown how quickly our world can change. It has been a stark reminder of what happens when humanity’s interconnectedness and relationship with the natural world breaks down. The devastating impacts have been felt across the globe and lockdown measures ground our world to a halt, creating one of the most significant social and economic crises since the Great Depression. As we enter what will undoubtedly be a long recovery it’s clear that we can’t go back to ‘business as usual’.

Against the complex backdrop of COVID-19 there has been some cause for optimism, including a continued commitment to sustainability within the real estate sector. According to a survey undertaken by the British Property Federation, supported by JLL, over 70% of respondents said that the delivery of sustainability initiatives continues to be ‘business as usual’ and in some cases activity has increased over the last five months. Furthermore, over 35% of the respondents said that they plan to accelerate activity and investment in sustainability as we emerge out of the pandemic.

Building resilience to future crises is more critical than ever and we must acknowledge that the climate emergency poses an even greater threat to our way of life and future. Similarly, with deep-rooted health and social inequalities heightened during the pandemic, protecting all members of society must be a priority for government and businesses. We cannot build a path to recovery without confronting the fragilities of our current system. It is vital that we shape a sustainable and just recovery, based on collective action and a commitment to protecting each other and the future our of planet.

Our new report looks at the key priority areas that the sector must focus on to bring about a positive recovery:

Ensuring climate resilience and accelerating the net zero carbon transition – with the 2020s already predicted to be the decade of net zero carbon delivery, COVID-19 has heightened our collective understanding of risk and the need for rapid action. JLL now considers that businesses need to adopt a total systems approach to net zero carbon; prioritise investment into net zero carbon technology solutions; manage climate risk in underwriting and investing; and finally, recognise the social risks from climate change and the absolute necessity of delivering a ‘socially just transition’.

Enabling healthy people and environments – as COVID-19 poses fundamental questions about the way we live and work, companies are prioritising their most valuable asset – their people – more than ever. This renewed focus on people’s health and wellbeing should include; the delivery of site-level actions to enhance wellbeing; the adoption of an evidence-based approach to wellbeing; prioritisation of investment into technology solutions to deliver well-being performance and a focus on local community well-being.

Creating a fair, inclusive, and resilient society - COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities and demands for a fair, inclusive, and resilient society are rightly intensifying. Organisations must respond meaningfully and transparently and focus on: leading with social purpose; developing a deep understanding of social risks and opportunities; investing to drive impact; and ensuring a genuine commitment to equality and inclusion.

Ultimately, the ‘new normal’ must be more resilient, more connected, and will need to be driven by strong leadership. Taking prompt action to deliver on these priorities will be critical to the future success of the sector, helping shape the future of real estate for a better world.

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