“A lot of people don’t understand the difference between carbon neutral and net zero carbon,” says JLL’s Anthony Clark.
Despite the number of large companies making climate commitments reaching critical mass, and governments legislating to cut emissions, the real estate sector was still confused about net zero carbon targets and how to achieve them.
Clark, JLL’s Tenant Representation – NSW, Senior Director, said there was a fundamental lack of understanding as to basic concepts and principles.
“Becoming carbon neutral is about measuring your emissions and then finding ways to offset them. But net zero means truly reducing carbon emissions,” Clark said.
“It’s about changing your business behaviours and practices, reducing your emissions across the entirety of the value chain, and only using offsets as an absolute last resort.
“A business in the post-pandemic world might think that if they skinny their footprint down to 8,000 square metres from 10,000 they’re making net savings.
“Many businesses don’t realise that if you have employees working from home, those emissions form part of the business’s scope three emissions. It starts to add up very quickly.”
Businesses were still coming to terms with the impact on their carbon footprint of staff working remotely and may not have fully realised the extent to which workers at home were still contributing to their overall emissions.
According to JLL, CBDs have been paying for ‘air collection’, with waste contractors still emptying commercial bins based on contracts drawn up pre-pandemic when offices were busier.
Since people have been working from home, there hasn’t been as much waste. Yet the same number of bins were still being collected and businesses were paying the same price – sometimes for an empty bin.
Measuring carbon emissions and input was a consistent challenge for the real estate industry.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Shared, accurate data between landlord and tenant is the key to net zero solutions, but currently lacking,” said JLL’s Head of Sustainability – ANZ, Connor McCauley.
Another challenge was the perceived cost of carbon solutions, including technology. However, running a simple audit as a first step can be revealing.
“While energy prices and waste collection costs have gone up, the cost of an audit hasn’t. It’s a small investment that helps you see where savings can be made,” McCauley said.
“Not carrying out an audit can be costly. Waste contractors were still emptying commercial bins based on contracts drawn up pre-pandemic when offices were busier. People are working from home and there hasn’t been as much waste, yet the same number of bins are still being collected and businesses are paying the same price – sometimes for an empty bin.”
Clark and McCauley spoke on JLL’s recent podcast, ‘Why real estate is confused about sustainability’.