December 04, 2017

Building data key to supporting global climate agenda: New RICS report

Building data key to supporting global climate agenda: New RICS report

To meaningfully support the global climate agenda, the real estate and construction sector must develop a more systematic, coherent and aligned approach to data management, according to new RICS report presented at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany, November 9-17, 2017.

This is one of the key findings of a new RICS report called “Global Trends in Data Capture and Management in Real Estate and Construction,” presented as part of the COP 23 Building Action Symposium on November 9 aimed at identifying key actions that could help achieve low-carbon, energy efficient buildings and a construction sector that will represent a tangible contribution to implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.

RICS is convinced that better whole life-cycle data capture, management and reporting enables government decision-makers, among others, to:

• Assess and develop more effective sustainability policies and incentive schemes,
• Stimulate more large-scale investment and financing of energy efficiency,
• Kick-start innovation, and
• Enable sector participants to build holistic strategies targeted at reducing carbon emissions during planning, construction and real estate use.

The report draws on the views and insights of building sector leaders - including representatives working in public policy, finance and investment - who are part of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (Global ABC). The Global ABC, of which RICS is a founding member, was established at COP21 in 2015 to develop a more coordinated, sector-by-sector approach to tackling climate change.

“Within the Global ABC, RICS is part of a dedicated working group on measurement, data and accountability. Following an extensive global survey of our stakeholders, the report pulls together how collecting, managing and sharing data across the sector can support larger climate goals. Better data means more market transparency, more informed decision-making, reduced investment risk and the ability to track and measure the all-important targets set out in the Paris Agreement.”

While the report lists an encouraging number of good practice examples and public and private initiatives, the overriding message of the survey is that the fragmentation and silo-thinking that the sector is known for, also translates into the way it handles its data.

Given the emphasis on driving investment into more energy efficiency measures in the built environment, the RICS report aims to help all stakeholders understand how better data management can protect their investments and assets through supporting the global climate agenda.

In the European Union, buildings account for 40 percent of EU energy use, and it is estimated that the EU needs to invest around €100 billion annually in building renovations to meet its energy and climate goals. The EU has increased the amount of public funds available for energy efficiency, but the European Commission has indicated that there is a need to boost private energy investments.

According to a recent report on the state of play of valuing energy efficiency, authored by RICS as part of the Energy Efficient Mortgages Action Plan Initiative (EeMAP), adequate data capture and information management will be required to unlock financing of energy efficiency resulting in a lower risk to lenders.

Zsolt Toth, RICS spokesperson explained at COP 23 the importance of data in underwriting energy efficiency investments and, ultimately, creating demand, saying: “Mortgage lenders have a clear interest in the state of the EU building stock. Investments in building performance improvements can help to free-up disposable income for borrowers through lower utility bills and can protect against long term value erosion. As a result, they can reduce credit risk, so they are a win-win for lenders, investors, consumers and climate.

However, a crucial prerequisite for the evaluator to better quantify a potential value increase is the availability and accessibility of data on both building physical and performance characteristics. Feedback from evaluators indicates that as yet, consistent collection and management of data and information is not standard market practice in the EU.”

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