Communicating with transparency and honesty is key to ensuring that our stakeholders are able to understand how our sustainability related challenges, risks and opportunities relate to and integrate with our core business.
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.
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 Finance and Operations Director, our Head of Sustainability 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.
During the year, 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.
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.
Our Sustainability Committee, chaired by our Chief Executive, meets quarterly and reports to the Board annually. Our Sustainability Policy statement is approved by the Board. The Committee monitors our progress towards achievement of our long term vision, oversees our approach to preventing modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chain and environmental compliance. For more information on how we are performing and our ESG related data see Our performance, our Modern Slavery Statement can be found here.
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 Statement 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 Community 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 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.