The importance of implementing ESG in the real estate sector

24/01/2023 by Ali Sajwani

Did you know buildings are responsible for around 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions, with some 28% from operational emissions – the energy needed to heat, cool and power them – and the remaining 11% from materials and construction?

The real estate sector has a strong responsibility to act now to help achieve the global net zero emissions goals. As the World Green Building Council puts it: “Towards the middle of the century, as the world’s population approaches 10 billion, the global building stock is expected to double in size. Carbon emissions released before the built asset is used, ‘upfront carbon’, will be responsible for half of the entire carbon footprint of new construction between now and 2050, threatening to consume a large part of our remaining carbon budget.”

I am proud that with these figures in mind, DAMAC is making great strides to include sustainability and good environmental practices in every project. We are embarking heavily in including environment and sustainability concerns into our business model.

As an example, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the sustainable initiatives we have undertaken at world-class luxury resort, Mandarin Oriental – Maldives.

Many strategies have been taken into consideration across the company’s wide property portfolio to ensure maximum sustainability, environmental preservation, reduction of waste and consumption of natural resources.

In the Maldives, the measures are being taken in a way that does not conflict with the level of luxury expected – and required – for guests in a world class luxury resort such as the Mandarin Oriental. 

To start, passive design solutions implemented in the building design reduce solar gain, while solar panels provide 100% of the resort’s energy requirements during the day and 80% during the night. Solar power is also used to heat water.

Meanwhile, multiple solutions implemented in the design ensure energy waste is reduced as much as possible, and the resort’s responsible design specification strategies have been implemented in collaboration with Mandarin Oriental.

Rainwater and greywater are collected for irrigation, while water on-site is filtered and bottled. 

The resort’s stunning landscape comprises native planting as much as possible, while waste segregation and facilities allow maximum reuse of waste: some 80% of waste produced on site is composted and reused as fertiliser.

Cooperation and collaboration are key in the real estate sector if we are to achieve a more sustainable approach in the built environment. 

By that, I mean property owners, investors, corporate occupiers and national and city governments, along with other key stakeholders. Groups such as the World Green Building Council are working towards facilitating this collaborative environment. The Council agrees that all

built environment stakeholders and decision-makers will have to engage and take responsibility for the climate effects of the built environment. 

Innovation is certainly required – because existing building stock plays a crucial part in the race to global decarbonisation. If 80% of our current building stock still exists in 2050, there will need to be an enormous global retrofitting campaign to decarbonise assets and align ourselves with global commitments.

Real estate companies can – and must – think beyond carbon, just as we are at DAMAC. Creating sustainable spaces is an onerous, but achievable order, and one that must be met.

No single stakeholder group has enough resources or capabilities to accomplish the decarbonisation of the built environment alone. Increased collaboration is what is required to help educate the sector and stakeholders, develop technology and create viable sustainable solutions for us all.

DAMAC’s efforts to help push forward climate action for sustainable real estate will continue at great pace throughout 2023, as we will strive to be a positive force for sustainability in the real estate sector.

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