The RICS World Built Environment Forum (WBEF) took place in Europe for the first time in October. The RICS welcomed around 150 property experts from Europe to the Procuratie Vecchie in Venice. The palace, which is around 500 years old, is the former official residence of the Procurators of San Marco and, as a refurbishment by David Chipperfield Architects, is an outstanding example of building in existing structures, but also of social commitment.
Generali Real Estate is the owner and is making part of the premises available to the Generali Foundation “The Human Safety Net”, which supports social and societal transformation and empowers people to create a safe future. The revitalisation therefore not only represents the rescue of a historically significant building, but also has a social impact by providing space. In addition, the renovation, which was completed in 2022, has also upgraded the building’s energy efficiency. From class “E” to “B” with savings of over 50 per cent and a postponement of the “stranding year 2026” determined according to CRREM to 2050.
The two-day WBEF focussed on the topic of ESG from a European perspective. Susanne Eickermann-Riepe FRICS, Chair of the RICS European World Regional Board (EWRB) and member of the RICS World Board (WRB): “European initiatives offer many insights that can accelerate development. This will help us to create a sustainable, resilient continent that will also benefit from its pioneering role in future growth. Venice is a good example of what needs to be done to tackle the effects of climate change. As RICS, we can help with the development of standards.”
Jens Böhnlein MRICS, Chairman of the Board of RICS Germany: “The focus of all endeavours must be on ensuring that an investment continues to gain value in a changing world. The symbiotic relationship between ESG, data and technology will play a crucial role in the transformation of the built environment. Automated transaction processes will make it possible to integrate and operationalise important ESG decision criteria into the investment. Data collection and, above all, the operational use of a building will significantly increase operational efficiency while ensuring optimised usability for the user.”
The RICS emphasises that real estate can form a social infrastructure, be seen as a service offering, and that cities can therefore also be a driving force for social change. Increasingly important issues such as biodiversity and Scope 3 emissions are also forcing the industry to think at the neighbourhood level, beyond the building itself.
“We will see extensive investment in the remodelling and redevelopment of assets. The importance of G in ESG, where everyone in a company must work towards sustainability goals, is increasing and will become a mainstay of corporate strategy,” Eickermann-Riepe and Böhnlein explain in summary, concluding: “In future, property will only be profitable if it sees itself as part of its environment and as a service facility. Doing nothing will cost money. So we are moving away from the old success formula of location, location, location and are on the way to the new premises, which are: location, sustainability and service.”
The RICS will continue the discussion and development of standards at the next WBEF conference in Bilbao on 14/15 October 2024. The WBEF was sponsored by the Platinum Partners Arcadis, the Silver Partners BuildingMinds, Deepki Italia, Cushman & Wakefield and the Bronze Partners workcloud24 as well as the cooperation partner Generali Real Estate.