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Going Green with Greenman

Greenman Group CEO Shares Expert Insights From Europe GRI 2023

October 3, 2023Real Estate
Written by Rory Hickman

The latest edition of Europe GRI recently came to a close after bringing together hundreds of the most influential industry executives from across the continent and all around the world to explore the dynamic environment of European real estate. 

Reflecting on the insightful panels, experts from Europe GRI 2023 lead sponsor Greenman shared valuable takeaways that shed light on the future of the sector. Key themes revolved around sustainability, technology integration, and the pivotal role of investors in driving change.

Three Essentials for Future-Proofed Properties

 “At Greenman, we've been at the forefront of pioneering renewable energy projects,” says Johnnie Wilkinson, CEO, Greenman Group. (Image: Greenman Group)

At the Challenge Zero Carbon panel that Johnnie Wilkinson, CEO of the Greenman Group, moderated, a panellist captured the audience with the bold statement that a sustainable property essentially needs just three elements: an energy metre, a footfall counter, and a thermometer. These elements seamlessly align with the Greenman Group's strategy.

“At Greenman, we've been at the forefront of pioneering renewable energy projects,” Wilkinson explained before elaborating on their pioneering efforts to generate renewable energy from PV-panels, install EV-charging hubs, and integrate advanced energy-efficient hardware at the retail centres of their funds. 

He stressed the importance of taking an integrated approach to property management in efforts to transform buildings into smart, interconnected hubs. This also requires fostering various touchpoints with users, including tenants, landlords, and customers.

"Our investment funds harness the expertise of our Group's companies to seamlessly integrate technology, data, and diverse projects into our retail infrastructures, all driven by a common goal: the development of genuinely intelligent and sustainable buildings," states Wilkinson.

The Power of Data and Technology

The Group’s mission encompasses a range of endeavours, from modernising existing buildings to employing technology for real-time data collection. Wilkinson explained that through a network of sensors, CCTV cameras, and computer vision applications, they gain deeper insights into customer behaviours. 

These insights help diminish losses, enhance operational efficiency, and inform building-related decisions. Importantly, this data also impacts asset values and has the potential to significantly reduce costs for tenants as well as positively impact investor returns.

“Data insights help to diminish losses, elevate operational efficiency, and facilitate building-related decisions,” says Wilkinson. (Image: Greenman Group)

The interplay between asset managers, landlords, and tenants was noted as a crucial consideration. With the dual challenge of conforming to regulations while also meeting ever-increasing expectations, strategic navigation becomes invaluable.

Authenticity in data collection emerged as a significant factor in property valuation. Experts discussed the importance of formulating benchmarks from genuine, though sometimes hard-to-obtain, data rather than relying on pre-set ones. 

Despite these challenges, developing a robust statistical model grounded in real data was deemed to be both possible and, more importantly, essential.

Sustainable Synergy

“Environmental initiatives shouldn't be misconceived as budget inflators,” Wilkinson says, challenging the misconception that going green is cost-prohibitive, noting that assets typically come with a predefined CAPEX plan, which can be allocated to eco-centric initiatives without inflating budgets.

Investors and pensions also play a pivotal role in promoting greener practices in the real estate sector, with the main responsibility being to make sure money is used wisely and play a big role in pushing for sustainability.

Audits were highlighted as vital tools for fund managers, aiding in asset acquisition, target selection for the next decade, and immediate divestment decisions. Interestingly, the focus seems to be shifting from the allure of a green bonus to the deterrence of brown discounts.

Active Management

“Active, vertically integrated management stands as the backbone of success in real estate,” says Catherin Choo, CEO, yes& (Image: Greenman Group)

Catherine Choo, CEO of Greenman Group’s subsidiary yes&, reflected on the important discussions that took place at Europe GRI 2023, emphasising the importance of active, vertically integrated management in the real estate sector. 

She underlined that success in the industry hinges on harnessing in-house expertise, local insights, and a tech-enabled approach. 

“As we shape the future, it's evident that delivering tangible societal impact through strategic initiatives and embracing sustainable, green practices is not just a trend, but an essential step for those wanting to stay relevant.” Choo points out.

Closing Words

“By staying informed and ahead of the curve, being adaptable and strategic, the real estate sector can indeed become a beacon of sustainability,” concludes Wilkinson. The challenge of achieving zero carbon in European real estate is multifaceted, and the role of investors is pivotal. 

The insights from the Europe GRI 2023 underscore the growing importance of sustainability and innovation in shaping the future of the real estate industry. For more insights into developments in the market, be sure to check out GRI Club Europe.