Q&A with Steffen Walvius
Today we have the Head and founding member of the ESG department in Prague office, Steffen Walvius, answering questions about sustainability in Real Estate.
Steffen has long experience in the field so he is definitely the right person to talk about this topic.
Our ESG team is currently the largest one in the field and we are planning to grow because sustainability is one of our key focus areas. So let's dive in the Q&A.
Our ESG team is currently the largest one in the field
1. JLL is the only company in Central and Eastern Europe with a large, dedicated team focussing on sustainability services for real estate. Where do you think the department is at in one year?
The demand for sustainability services in the real estate sector is big and increasing rapidly. JLL understands this and is heavily investing in growing these capabilities. Thanks to this attitude, we can grow the team like we are. I would not be surprised if, by the end of 2023, we have a team of 30+ specialists. The clients are asking for it, and we trying our best to keep up with the demand.
2. Your department is very busy and growing quickly, how do you get all this work?
We never pitch for work. Typically, we spend the first meeting giving the basics on sustainability in real estate. This helps to make the client more comfortable with the topic and understands where the company may need help.
3. What are the binding goals for companies to meet? And how is it measured?
I wish there is an easy answer to this question. Finding out what is binding, market-standard and expected is a challenge for companies. Fortunately, regulations affect investors fast, and their pressure for assets to comply helps asset owners set goals. Companies are seeking advice to deal with this push, and we guide them through this.
4. Overcoming barriers to sustainable real estate – what do you think? What are you seeing at the moment as critical barriers to really enabling your vision to be a reality?
On a high level, one of the last, possibly the most difficult barrier to overcome before we can really transition towards a net-zero economy is a mindset change. Finding a right balance between comfort and need, going for quality instead of quantity. The technology is ready and the capital is ready to flow in the right direction. On a more practical level, I would like to see more education, and make sure it becomes part of general knowledge of people.
5. What is the most common issue that companies solves and its implementation is having a big impact?
Measuring and tracking sustainability and ESG performance in the corporate-, portfolio- and buildings-level is a common issue that should be solved before seriously talking about measures to be taken. It's another finger on the pulse and provides extra tools to detect deficiencies. With this data you can see how your assets perform, benchmark against peers, and anticipate before assets are earmarked as outdated. For example, when you are trying to sell logistics real assets that are not equipped with LED lighting or roof PV solar, you have to expect a lower appetite from buyers.
6. What ESG-related questions do you get from investors?
Questions come in all sorts of shapes and forms, but if I would have to sum it up in four general questions, these would be the one:
- Is this building in line with the Paris agreement (e.g. CRREM decarbonisation pathways)?
- What is the (potential) green building certifications score?
- Can the building be considered sustainable (e.g. according to the EU Taxonomy)?
- How can we improve this, and how much does that cost?
- It is critical that asset managers, sellers, and buyers, have the answers to these questions. It should be backed by science, determined in transparent methods, and most of all objective.
7. Does the solutions bring any benefits to companies as well?
Absolutely, it brings more benefits if a company has a long-term mindset and is not afraid of changes. Tracking sustainable and ESG performance exposes shortcomings in the business and buildings that can be fixed proactively. There are some government grants to help convince companies to move forward, but the biggest incentive to adopt sustainable solutions is to remain attractive in the market.
8. What companies are obliged to implement changes?
Two big forces that cause making changes inevitable; regulations and investors/market expectations. Every company deals with at least one of them so essentially every company needs to implement changes. In Western Europe they are a bit ahead and adopt changes faster. In Central Europe we're a couple of years behind. This is of course not so positive for the common goal, but it makes the changes easier for companies here since we learn from the early adopters in Western Europe.
9. Where can companies find more information?
If you have the time and resources, you can find everything on the internet (of course). Unfortunately, there is not a central source where you can find information. The countless institutions and initiatives make it a bit intimidating for companies but with some guidance it is not as scary as it seems at first. We would suggest some reading here and here.
We hope this interview gave you an insight in our ESG department. Soon we will have another Q&A with Steffen so if you have any questions for him reach out to our marketing department and we will add them to our next interview.
Společnost JLL (NYSE: JLL) má vedoucí pozici mezi firmami poskytujícími profesionální služby v oblasti správy nemovitostí a investic. JLL utváří budoucnost nemovitostí pro lepší svět tím, že využívá nejmodernější technologie k vytváření hodnotných příležitostí, úžasných prostor a udržitelných realitních řešení pro naše klienty, naše lidi a naše komunity. JLL je společností z žebříčku Fortune 500 s ročními příjmy 19,4 miliardy dolarů, působí ve více než 80 zemích a k 30. červnu 2022 zaměstnávala více než 102 000 pracovníků po celém světě. JLL je obchodní značka a registrovaná ochranná známka společnosti Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. Další informace naleznete na stránkách jll.com.