How sustainability can differentiate your brand and increase commercial building value
As the world economy recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, building owners and operators are facing a range of new challenges. This post will discuss how making your buildings more sustainable can help you meet these challenges by strengthening your brand.
With real estate firms faced with potentially less demand for floor space, and hotels recovering slowly from a long period of no or low vacancy, companies need to leverage every tool they have to attract tenants and guests back to their buildings. The power of a positive, attractive brand will be critical.
Many factors can help businesses strengthen their brand image during and post-pandemic. Ensuring a healthy indoor environment and improving the tenant and guest experience are two. But equally important is the value of sustainability – not only for helping attract employees and guests but also for maximizing asset value and revenue by helping to control operating costs.
Sustainable buildings deliver higher value
Mid-2020, professional services firm EY stated, “Sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs are key components of long-term value and business resiliency … strong ESG programs may help buffer the impacts of the current crisis, hasten recovery, spur innovation needed to navigate a “new normal” and reduce risks to other crises in the future. For example, ESG funds have shown stronger performance than non-ESG rivals during COVID-19.” The last comment is understandable given a survey found that 77% of values-driven millennials say that “ESG concerns are their top priority when considering investment opportunities.”
Sustainable practices have a significant impact on business, real estate valuation, and brand. But they also help optimize efficiency and costs. In their Green Building and Property Value primer, the Appraisal Institute notes that more sustainable buildings not only reduce operating expenses, but they also attract higher occupancy and revenue, mitigating risk by offering hedges against changing consumer preferences. These are characteristics of a strong brand.
To put this all into perspective: you can no longer be a successful and profitable company without being sustainable. Greener building portfolios will not only help lower operational costs, meet energy efficiency mandates, and deliver higher valuation. A greener image will also make your brand more competitive in the marketplace, helping attract and retain tenants and fill hotel rooms with guests. This is a win-win-win situation – what was once coined the ‘triple bottom line‘ – helping your firm prosper while helping people and the planet.
Sustainability supercharges your brand
Professional marketers know that a company’s brand equity is one of its most important assets. A strongly differentiated brand can help your company and its offers stand apart from competitors while building preference and loyalty faster with target customers. To be effective, your brand needs to have a simple, clear, consistent, and memorable ‘brand promise’ about the benefits its customers value most.
Sustainability needs to become part of that message. As high-quality tenants increasingly demand properties that demonstrate sustainable practices, and hotel guests seek greener accommodation options, your brand needs to respond. And that simple promise needs to be shown boldly in your firm’s mission, vision, goals, and actions.
As an example, Schneider Electric has gained a great deal of expertise in sustainability. In fact, we are ranked as the world’s most sustainable corporation for 2021 by Corporate Knights. Gilles Vermot Desroches, SVP for sustainable development and strategy, explains that the two sides of our sustainability mission are to “lead by example within our own operations and ecosystem [and] work to be part of the solution for our customers. Sustainability improves performance, innovation, and our attractiveness as a place to work. It creates value.”
We express our sustainability ambition by successfully meeting aggressive ESG goals and renewing our commitments for the next five years. We have also set a vision for ‘Buildings of the Future‘ that helps our customers make their buildings more sustainable, hyper-efficient, resilient, and people-centric. Let’s look at how one of our customers is using sustainability to strengthen its market position.
Swire Properties builds a sustainable future
Swire Properties had the vision to drive substantial decarbonization in its buildings from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland to deliver on a commitment to science-based targets, reduce energy consumption and costs, and adopt an overall integrated approach to sustainability.
We worked with Swire Properties to digitalize their energy management infrastructures and deploy the cloud-based EcoStruxure Energy Advisor platform across ﬁve prestigious locations. The solution delivers continuous monitoring, efficiency and sustainability benchmarking and analyses, and automated fault detection and diagnosis.
Swire staff is now able to uncover hidden savings – expecting an annual 10 to 20% reduction of energy costs – while analytics-driven performance tracking helps pinpoint and prioritize the continuous energy improvements needed to meet and exceed sustainability goals.
Raymond Yau, General Manager, Technical Services & Sustainable Development for Swire Properties confirms, “To engage our tenants in living and working in a sustainable environment is very important to be the top performer in sustainable development in our sector by 2020.”
For building owners and developers seeking to meet sustainability targets and leverage a greener image for their brand, Schneider Electric offers a simplified and comprehensive, step-by-step approach to take you from consultative assessment and implementation to operation and optimization. With our services, software, and solutions, you can increase your building valuation, shorten ROI time while also contributing to a better environment for us all. Discover our solutions for Buildings of the Future.
By Yoon Young Kim, Cluster President of Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei