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Walk the green line: 2021 signals a sustainability upswing

From building around nature to committing to a net zero carbon future, this briefing looks at how the sustainability agenda is getting a new lease of life this year

In recent years, large corporates have been challenged and critiqued on their contribution to creating a sustainable future. This movement has seen a rise in new workplace standards such as BREEAM and WELL, and smart buildings that are more carbon conscious. However, in 2020 green momentum stalled as corporates turned their focus to the immediate threat of Covid-19.

Now that most organisations have mapped out business strategies to deal with the pandemic, they have turned their attention back to the bigger picture of sustainability and climate change. This week EY released its strategy to build a better working world by becoming ‘carbon negative in 2021 and net zero in 2025’. The global company aims to lead by example and set targets to significantly reduce its absolute emissions each year. This move reflects the expectations of EY stakeholders, especially of its employees, for building a better working world and creating a more sustainable.

While many corporates have made similar pledges over the years, these have struggled to come to fruition and many of the current commitments in place are not enough. EY has outlined seven key initiatives to achieve its net zero goal by 2025:

  1. Reducing business travel emission, with a target to achieve a 35 per cent reduction by 2025 compared to its 2019 baseline
  2. Reducing overall office electricity usage and procuring 100 per cent renewable energy for the remaining needs
  3. Structuring electricity Power Purchase Agreements to introduce more renewable electricity than EY consumes into national grids
  4. Using nature-based solutions and carbon-reduction technologies
  5. Providing its teams with tools to calculate, then work to reduce, the amount of carbon emitted in carrying out client work
  6. Requiring 75 per cent of EY suppliers to set science-based targets by no later than 2025
  7. Investing in EY services and solutions that help clients create value from decarbonising their businesses and provide solutions to other sustainability challenges and opportunities.

This five-year EY transformation to become carbon negative is coupled with a focus on supporting EY clients to do the same.

‘Organisations have turned their attention back to the bigger picture of climate change…’

Similarly to EY, Chiswick Park Enjoy-Work has unveiled its new sustainability strategy for 2021 this week. The business campus located in West London has launched ‘Enjoy-Work Together’ a new Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) strategy. Each ESG factor is fully integrated to the key corporate areas, aiming at supporting a long-term sustainable and responsible business.

Environmental factors at Chiswick Park will focus on renewable energy sources, waste management and biodiversity practices. The social element will focus on curating a special relationship within the Chiswick Park community while bringing positive social solutions to the wider community. The governance aspects will focus on the way the business is run, ensuring stakeholders’ confidence with clear decision-making process and controls in place.

Walking The Line

A new Saudi mega city project has been championed as the first major urban development in 150 years that has designed around people rather than roads. ‘The Line’, a 170km belt of re-imagined urban development by the Neom Company with multiple hyper-connected communities and natural walkable spaces, is based on the principles of ‘zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions’.

Construction is set to start in the first quarter of 2021 and is expected to be home to more than one million people from all over the world. The project is a direct response to growing challenges around carbon emissions and climate change, and contributes to the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy which aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy.

The new development will be carbon-positive powered by 100-per-cent clean energy, says Neom, providing pollution-free, healthier and more sustainable environments for residents. Mixed-use communities will be built around nature, instead of over it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be deployed to create cognitive communities, with the technology continuously learning predictive ways to make life easier, and creating time for both residents and businesses. An estimated 90 per cent of available data will be harnessed to enhance infrastructure capabilities far beyond that typically utilised in existing smart cities, according to Neom.

Journey to digital workplace

As organisations struggle with their corporate real estate portfolios in a post Covid-19 world, it is beneficial to look at lessons learned in 2020 and how shifts in work patterns might create new needs for the physical workplace. The next WORKTECH webinar, ‘The CRE journey to the digital workplace experience’, explores how progressive businesses have been addressing new performance measures and employee working patterns, and how they will tackle these shifts as they look to the future.

Industry experts Philip Ross of UnWork, Sabine Ehm of Locatee, Mark Needham of Cisco and Simon Pascoe on Novartis will discuss employee feedback, acceptance and what lessons have been learnt so far. Register to join the webinar on Thursday 4 February at 16:00 BST here.

Resource Management in focus

WORKTECH continues to roll out its popular virtual conference series into 2021. The next event, the Resource Management Technology Virtual Symposium, will take place on 9 February at 14:00 – 16:00 GMT. This half-day conference and innovations exhibition will explore how room and desk booking technologies are shaping the office experience and the new world of work into 2021.

As part of the return-to-the-office strategy, we will need new technology and solutions to measure and book spaces as well as other data to provide a safe and secure environment. This event will showcase leading innovations, as well as preview WORKTECH’s upcoming technology guide which analyses the key players in the industry.

Keynote speakers at the event include leaders from Accenture and Sony, and there will be opportunity to network with a global audience of thought leaders across the industry. Book here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional live conference series paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. This edition is posted 27 January 2021.
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