JLL and a greener tomorrow

By Nell Walker
JLL is changing the face of real estate with its powerful vision of 2040. Emma Hoskyn, Director of Upstr...

JLL is changing the face of real estate with its powerful vision of 2040. Emma Hoskyn, Director of Upstream Sustainability Services, explains how.

It's no secret that the world is barrelling towards a technologically advanced future at an incredible rate, and while the innovators of the world fight to set the tone for that future, it's up to real estate developers to ensure they're creating the appropriate physical infrastructure to support that.

This is where JLL comes in. Already at the forefront of real estate expertise, the company recently published a report – The Transformation Framework – outlining what the ideal city will look like in 2040 and how developers, builders and investors can ensure they are doing all they can to be a part of this evolution.

The way JLL gauged what the future cityscape would look like was simple: around 30 of its key clients were brought together for a workshop whereupon they were handed a piece of paper with a basic city outline on it, and asked to annotate it with the key elements that the city of the future is likely to contain. JLL then aggregated those ideas and focussed on the seven most common: tech innovation, urbanisation, land and resource scarcity, the low carbon economy, demographic and workplace change, health and wellness and transparency and social value. It is on these seven key elements that JLL then based its framework. Emma Hoskyn, Director of Upstream Sustainability Services at JLL, explains how it all began.

“18 months ago we were looking towards 2017, because that was the year in which we celebrated 20 years’ experience in helping real estate businesses transform,” she says. “We reflected on what has happened over the last 20 years of sustainability within real estate and what the future might hold. Back in 2015 we'd done some research on real estate trends that looked out to 2030, so we revisited that and went a little further on our time horizon since things move and change at such a pace.

“In order to really reflect on trends that were coming around the corner, we had to discuss it with our clients, but they are used to looking at physical buildings which are practical and tangible, so we thought 'how can we make this idea tangible to people?' Hence last May, to kick off the campaign and launch the microsite, we held a workshop and had people put pen to paper.”

Hoskyn has been with JLL for just over a decade and runs Upstream, the client advisory team that works with property owners, occupiers and developers to advise on all aspects of sustainability. She is, therefore, realistic about the fact that many of the seven trends JLL has identified are not exactly new, but they are goals to work towards which continue to shift and evolve. Hoskyn makes no claims that the elements outlined in The Transformation Framework paint a picture of exactly what 2040 will look like or that they will only come about at that point in time – rather, they build a bridge defining the direction of travel and encourage discussion around those themes.

“Things like using space more flexibly – with healthier buildings, co-working hubs, multi-generational housing and co-living spaces – they're really interesting perspectives for the future,” she explains. “Then there are eco elements like green walls, electric car charge points and wind turbines – these are obviously things that are happening now. The circular economy, however, is a really new concept to a lot of people and is really gaining momentum as we think harder about how to use resources properly, considering that buildings are enormous consumers of resources.”

What JLL aims to really drive home is that it's not simply one or two of the seven trends (and the hundreds of more specific ones beneath the seven umbrellas) that are moving on apace at the moment – the speed of change within the entire real estate sector is being challenged at the same rate at a fundamental level. What the company is communicating outwards is that these changes can be broken more comfortably into seven generalised chunks and they should be given equal focus.

“Really what you need to do is make sure that you can manage all of this at once and deal with it in a way that means you are, in 2040, still relevant and thriving as an organisation rather than merely surviving,” says Hoskyn. “If you want to thrive, you have to think about things in a slightly different way. That's why we created The Transformation Framework because historically, while we're in a position where we've spoken about the trends hitting real estate with clients for many years, we'd never before done a paper to say 'okay, how do you deal with these challenges at an organisational level?' Businesses need to think about their sense of social purpose and create a vision based around that, at which point JLL can step in and support them on their journey.”

Of course, not all organisations are as willing to evolve as others or will take on board the advice that JLL has to give, but Hoskyn believes that even those lagging in their sustainability initiatives and processes can keep up if given the correct tools. She is conscious that JLL's vision of the future is an idealistic one, but with good reason – the company hopes that 2040 will see all businesses have a defined social purpose that creates only benefits, cuts down on its use of limited natural resources and values humans and the environment.

“The Crown Estate is a good example of an organisation which is doing some of this; it published its second Total Contribution report in 2017 which presents its actual impact across six capitals and not just financial capital,” says Hoskyn. “It calculated total contribution through the impact it has on nature and communities, amongst other aspects, and put a value to that. It's a completely different way of thinking and it's possible that in 10 or 20 years’ time, that approach could develop further to be part of a normal accounting process.”

JLL's aim is to increase knowledge across real estate and the wider world. While the business communicates a lot with sustainability experts, it also deals with heads of real estate, fund and asset managers who are beginning to understand the opportunities available to them and are being pushed by investors to respond to the future's call. Hoskyn believes there need to be short-term drivers as well as long-term drivers in order to get the more resistant to respond, since it's so difficult to articulate something that might happen in the future to reach a decision today, but a savvy investor who knows exactly what they want can make all the difference.

“Our strapline for this project is 'change today for a sustainable tomorrow', which may sound a bit cheesy but it's to encourage people to think about those everyday decisions they make today,” says Hoskyn. “Those decisions will ultimately accumulate and will have a significant impact on their future.”


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