Fighting climate change with ESG-driven compliance.
As a sustainability-led housing provider, there are measures you can implement to help reduce your business' environmental impact. Your compliance team can arm your business with a set of processes and tools that act as an effective shield to protect the environment.
Your compliance team is responsible for the execution and management of risk assessment and mitigation actions in your business through control measures, including financial, management, procedural, and operational policies. Incorporating ESG factors into risk management and governance-related measures (i.e., the "G" in ESG) will enable your compliance team to keep your business up-to-date with regulatory obligations while introducing lasting measures to help combat both the contributors and the effects of climate change.
Housing providers' contribution to climate change.
According to the UN, it's projected that 68% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050 – a significant increase in our present-day figure of 55%. This is noteworthy as cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Many buildings in urban areas are old housing stock and commercial properties that either aren't fit for purpose or that don't reflect energy efficiency improvements over time. The emissions from inefficient maintenance equipment and property management practices within these buildings are also direct contributors to climate change.
On that basis, there are several key issues to monitor in relation to monitoring building performance and sustainability in managed housing. These include:
- The durability of built-in facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms – inefficient appliances can contribute to fuel poverty for vulnerable residents.
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) – inadequate insulation and poor ventilation pose a significant risk to energy efficiency during colder seasons and/or overheating in buildings during warmer weather.
- Fire safety and security – poorly maintained appliances, fixtures, and building facilities, such as fire doors, can also present a significant fire safety hazard.
- Fuel efficiency – not having an accurate record of the fuel types used by each property means that any retrofitting may be completed in an unsystematic and ineffective manner between buildings.
Without incorporating ESG practices into risk management and governance – especially in relation to new development projects – it's unlikely that housing providers will meet the challenge of urbanisation in a responsible way.
Given that social housing tenants include a large proportion of vulnerable citizens, safety and energy efficiency are considerable social impact concerns that push the need for a zero-carbon approach.
A holistic approach to building performance and compliance.
Ensuring that property developments meet or exceed building performance and compliance standards requires a holistic approach to their design, construction, and maintenance. Identifying potential risks to the environment (e.g., flooding), society (e.g., losing community cohesion), or economy (e.g., a lack of local opportunities or resources) through climate change is a vital issue for compliance teams to address in their risk assessments.
By equipping your compliance team with the resources to focus on risk identification and mitigation throughout the entire life cycle of a building project, your housing business can continue to drive more sustainable development. This helps reduce the environmental impact of your development projects as well as ensuring they are in line with future regulations.
In practice, this looks like:
- Documenting building assets and keeping maintenance logs to avoid additional financial and environmental costs for property/asset repairs.
- Using analytics to help plan the phasing out of inefficient appliances and retrofitting existing homes to make them low-carbon and resilient to the changing climate.
- Centralising risk management processes through digital integration solutions to include your operational and compliance teams alongside your ESG-led business strategy.
Having streamlined processes in place to document and validate your compliance activities will help you improve the condition of your housing stock. Using proptech tools can further provide strategic insights towards your ESG efforts.
By using your available resources to ensure your buildings are well maintained in terms of environmental performance, you'll be able to keep tenants safe while reducing your costs in the long run – and ultimately, your responsible housing practices will benefit the planet.