Sustained progress is needed by all property owners and operators if the sector is to meet its share of emissions reductions, according to real estate consultancy JLL.
Overall, the commercial property sector in the UK reduced its operational carbon emissions by approximately 21% between 1990 and 2010, which equates to an annual reduction of only 1.14%, the consultancy said.
JLL analysed data from over 700 retail and office properties across the UK in the real estate environmental benchmark (REEB), a project it runs in a collaboration with several property companies, including Hammerson, British Land and Grosvenor.
Participants in the benchmark are already working on reducing emissions. JLL says these companies are cutting emissions by an average of 6% a year, meaning that in future years they need to achieve an average reduction rate of 2.91% to reach the government’s target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
The consultancy acknowledges that this is likely to become increasingly challenging over time, since easy and cheaper measures will have already been taken. More emphasis will need to be placed on occupiers to improve the efficiency of the parts of the building that they occupy, it said.
However, companies who have not started making reductions will need to cut emissions by at least 3.5% a year in order to align with the 2050 target, JLL has estimated.
Matthew Tippett, director in the sustainability division at JLL, said: “The government has set a very ambitious target of achieving an 80% reduction in emissions but not many companies know how to track their progress, let alone have a plan on how to do it.
“The commercial property sector needs to measure and monitor its energy consumption, benchmark performance against best practice and set meaningful targets in line with the government’s aim,” he said.
The UK commercial property sector is responsible for about 12% of its carbon emissions. Since 60% of current stock is expected to still be in operation in 2050, work is required to improve the efficiency of these buildings as well as constructing new property to low and zero carbon standards, JLL said.