Our purpose is to unlock potential for London to thrive. Communicating with transparency and honesty is a core value and key to ensuring that our stakeholders are able to understand how our sustainability related challenges, risks and opportunities relate to and integrate with our business strategy. For more on our purpose and values and our strategy go to the About Us section of the website.
In 2019, we reviewed our material risks with the support of an external consultant in line with best-practice guidance.
The process started with a horizon scanning exercise to establish relevant trends, review the legislative environment and consider priorities for the industry. This resulted in the creation of a long list of more than 200 themes, which were then condensed into a short list of 23 issues considered to be most relevant to a London-based property investment and development company.
We consulted with a number of internal stakeholders representing all areas of the business, who ranked the issues in terms of impact on our business. In order to understand the importance of the issues to external stakeholders, we also invited a number of investors, occupiers, suppliers and community organisations to participate.
Our finalised matrix was signed off by our Board of Directors. The top material themes for GPE were identified as:
- Sustainable Building Design
- Health and Safety
- Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Efficiency
- Climate Adaptation and Resilience
- Environmental Compliance
- Enhancement of the Public Realm
- Biodiversity and Urban Greening
- Air Quality
- Smart Buildings and Digitisation
- Community Engagement
Our business risks were updated to reflect the outcome of our review. See our business risks here.
As part of our review of material risks we mapped the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals against our strategy to consider how our sustainability priorities relate to those of the wider world. Whilst we were able to relate our activities to all of the goals, the four which had the most resonance and aligned most closely with our purpose and values were:
Following the review of material risks we:
- Set new targets on energy efficiency and climate change mitigation; and
- Undertook climate risk modelling to understand our resilience to climate change.
This year we expanded on this, creating our Statement of Intent “The Time is Now”, based on four pillars, informed by our materiality review, this sets out our long term strategy for sustainability, including the decarbonisation of our business by 2030.
Planning and risk management
Attended by a number of the Senior Management Team, the Sustainability Committee:
- Monitors and oversees climate-related risks and opportunities; and
- Monitors progress towards achieving our long-term vision for sustainability.
Reporting to our Chief Executive, our Sustainability & Social Impact Director leads our strategy on climate change and the process of assessing and managing related risks.
Our business plans generally focus on the next three to five years, in line with the property cycle, however, the buildings we are designing today are likely still to be in use well after 2050 and therefore we consider short, medium and long-term risks in connection with climate change.
In 2019, we undertook a climate risk review to more fully understand the potential physical risks for our portfolio. This identified that in the longer term there will be an increased need for cooling, an increased risk of drought and water shortages and more frequent extreme weather events, such as winter storms and flooding. During the forthcoming year we will build on this review to create our climate resilience strategy.
In the medium to long-term, we are focused on sustainable building design aiming to:
- Develop buildings with climate change adaptation measures designed in;
- Ensure our properties are as energy efficient and low carbon as practicable, aiming for net zero carbon; and
- Address energy efficiency in our existing buildings through refurbishment.
For more on how we consider sustainability, energy efficiency and climate change adaptation in building design see our Sustainable Development Brief and Creating Sustainable Spaces. See our case study on The Hickman for more on innovation in design.
Governance and oversight
Management of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues is hardwired throughout our processes with oversight provided by our Sustainability Committee, Health and Safety Committee and Community and Charity Committee. A sustainability and health and safety update is provided at each scheduled Board meeting by the Finance and Operations Director, with formal updates provided at least twice a year. During the year the Board and Audit Committee took the opportunity to oversee an in-depth review of GPE’s Principal risks, which included consideration of climate risk.
For more on our risk review click here.
The Sustainability Committee meets quarterly and is chaired by the Chief Executive. It provides strategic oversight on climate risk and resilience, reviews progress and development of sustainability strategy and monitors performance including progress in decarbonising our business. The Committee also provides oversight of the Decarbonisation Fund, our approach to health and wellbeing with respect to our buildings and the prevention of modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chain.
The Health and Safety Committee is chaired by our Finance and Operations Director, meets quarterly and is attended by key department heads with operational responsibility for health and safety. The Committee reports quarterly to Executive Committee and twice yearly to the Board, although health and safety updates are provided at each scheduled board meeting. The Health and Safety Policy is reviewed annually and approved by the Board. For more on health and safety see Working Safely.
Our Community and Charity Committee is chaired by our Head of Sustainability and meets quarterly. The committee reports to Executive Committee on a six monthly basis and to the Board annually. Progress against our community strategy is publicly reported annually, for more information see our Social impact report.
Transparency and reporting
We monitor progress on our strategy quarterly through our Sustainability Committee. Our progress against our long-term vision is reported publicly on an annual basis.
To ensure transparency in our reporting, we use consultants to assure our data for our assurance statement see our Sustainability data performance report. The achievement of ESG related targets is included as part of appraisal, remuneration and personal development discussions.
We actively engage with our investors on ESG related issues, however in order to provide maximum disclosure we also participate in a number of external benchmarks and ratings including:
We are also members of the Ethibel Excellence Register and align our reporting with EPRA Best Practice in Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.
More information on our reporting can be found in Our performance.
For our response to the Task force on climate-related financial disclosures click here.
For the industry to make progress on sustainability issues collaboration is key. We are therefore members of the UK Green Building Council, Better Buildings Partnership, British Property Federation and Wild West End. Our Sustainability & Social Impact Director also sits on the EPRA Sustainability Committee and British Property Federation Sustainability Committee.
Through our membership of a number of business improvement districts and London First, we are also working with our communities to drive sustainability improvements across London.