Sustainability has become one of the most popular buzzwords of recent years as growing awareness of the climate crisis has forced industries across the UK, and the globe, to rethink their processes to see how they can be greener and more eco-friendly.
Recently published research – the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report – offered a sobering view of global climate change, claiming it was now widespread, rapid and intensifying.
With the built environment responsible for 40% of global emissions, the responsibility falling upon the property sector in particular is perhaps greater than most.
It’s more important than ever that, as an agent, you can shout about and prove your sustainability credentials. Not just from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) point of view, but also because many consumers – including landlords and tenants – will now demand that their agents are sustainable/green.
The younger generations – from millennials to Gen Z – are perhaps more climate-aware than any other, and this demographic is also by far the most likely to rent. So, it makes perfect sense for agents to bolster or improve their green credentials on many levels.
The momentum behind encouraging agents to embrace sustainability to a greater degree has increased in recent years as issues surrounding climate change have become front-page news and featured extensively in various films and TV shows.
How can agents be more sustainable?
There are many ways in which letting agents can improve their sustainability and act greener, all with varying costs.
Promoting a more sustainable culture in the office is a great place start – it doesn’t cost anything but sets down a marker that as a company, you wish to act more sustainably. This will make employees consider the environment more often whilst at work and act more responsibly.
Many agents are brilliant when it comes to raising money for charitable causes, and you could look to focus your next challenge on raising money for environmental campaigns or charities.
Another option is to go paperless, or try to cut down on paper use – don’t print things which don’t need printing and try not to print multiple copies of things wherever possible. This help lessen your environmental impact.
A more drastic way of cutting down your company’s carbon footprint is to replace company cars with electric cars or hybrids. This, of course, isn’t something everyone can afford to do straight away, but could be a good plan for the long-term. An alternate transport-based option is to encourage employees to commute greener if possible, biking, public transport, and car-sharing are all great methods.
Cutting down waste, improving recycling, using more recycled materials and installing energy-saving lighting in the office are all easy but effective methods to improve sustainability, and certainly something to brag about from a CSR point of view.
Why it’s important to improve sustainability
From the examples above, it may seem like a lot of extra costs which won’t generate any extra revenue, however, consumers of all ages are becoming increasingly expectant of companies that they use to act responsibly and minimize their environmental impact.
Deloitte found earlier this year that 45% of Gen Z – which a large percentage of tenants fall under – claimed to have stopped buying certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability concerns about them.
With more and more landlords will now fitting into the millennial category as the average age of landlords falls, this generally more climate-aware generation may also pay more attention to an agent’s sustainability credentials.
So with increasing demand and expectation on letting agents to act sustainably, getting ahead and becoming well known as a ‘sustainable agent’ could be hugely beneficial in terms of attracting new customers and retaining them.
Sustainability is highly unlikely to disappear as a buzzword anytime soon – it is only likely to be used even more as focus intensifies on how to solve the climate problem – so it could be those agents who fully embrace it now that will reap the greatest rewards in the near future.