Author: Sanne

How to engage a team in the climate race

When you play team sports, you often start with one goal: to score. But to win as a team instead of individually, you need to be able to pass the ball. Elite sports teams all share the same characteristics: they put immense effort into creating team synergy and build on the strengths of each of their members. I believe that the same mindset is needed to win the biggest match of all: the one where Planet Earth wins. In this blog, I’ll share a few ways in which we want to engage stakeholders in reaching their net-zero carbon building goals.

Actionable insight

If you want to win, you have to first set goals and determine what success looks like. For sustainability goal progress to be measured, you need actionable insights into your energy data. At hello energy, we collect a lot of the building data to make observations about the behaviour of people in the building.

Celebrate small victories

The most important ingredient for success is motivation. And motivation comes from positive encouragement. That’s why we believe you need to show people they are making progress (and also how), and share success stories, even if the steps towards the end goals are small ones. Sometimes, it feels as though my personal actions hardly make a difference, but there’s a lot to be hopeful about. For instance:

You can find more positive news like this on the timeline in hello energy. Other weekly news and tips within our product features show the positive improvements stakeholders can make every week.

Build on each others’ strengths

To get a whole team involved, you need to engage all stakeholders in the ‘match’. Whether you are a goalie or striker, an investor or a tenant, engagement is an important aspect of a net-zero carbon strategy.

Benchmark your performance

Even though you might be on the right track when it concerns your sustainable goals, it’s important to keep evaluating your efforts and to benchmark them to other similar sustainable building cases. Your building doesn’t exist in a bubble, after all.

Decide on your game plan

What’s your next step? Do all your highest performers have a seat at the table? Do you know what the next steps are into engaging all of the stakeholders of the building into taking action and sharing the goal?

If you want to know more about your game plan, I’d like to help you determine your next moves in a personal demo of our software.

Introducing the Sustainability Radar

Click here to watch the video in a new tab.

Scoring points on GRESB with stakeholder engagement

If real estate owners were to engage their tenants with their sustainability goals, their buildings would thrive. Engaged tenants lead to energy savings, a higher GRESB score, a better relationship between owner and occupier, and a joint effort to become Paris Proof. Stakeholder engagement in general is a big opportunity. But where do you start?

Engagement is “being emotionally involved or committed to something”. The something, in this case, being a more sustainable building. When it comes to tenant engagement, the status quo is hard to pinpoint. The starting point differs between companies and even individual buildings in the same portfolio. However, there’s probably some low hanging fruit for all companies.

Going from zero engagement to committed tenants is great. Because you love the planet, but also because investment parties prefer a portfolio that scores higher on GRESB. Being a frontrunner in the greener buildings department is also great. And showing off to your (potential) tenant doesn’t hurt either. 😉

In order to really get going with engagement, you can’t overlook data collection. Thankfully, most (bigger) parties don’t. If you’re trying to score on GRESB, you will surely do some form of data collection. It might not be smart, or even automated, but it’s something. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and work your data.

How can you profit from tenant engagement? Read our whitepaper to find out how experts consider this subject and the kind of solutions they see in today’s market.

RISE up!

As you already know, hello energy was selected by Techleap as one of the eleven most promising Dutch tech scale-ups of the year. We have joined the RISE-program ‘flattening the climate curve’. But what does that mean? Read on to find out more.

Techleap aims to accelerate the tech ecosystem in the Netherlands. They bring together tech scale ups with high growth potential in their RISE batches. Being selected is a great acknowledgement for us by a trustworthy third party. It offers us lots of opportunities. To share insights with other members and experts and build a huge new network on the one hand. On the other hand, the acknowledgement itself helps draw new customers, and aids in our upcoming funding round.

The actual program started with a scan by ScaleUpNation, reviewing all aspects of our company. By matching the outcomes to their database, the scan confirms our growth potential, and identifies our strengths and opportunities.

After that, we joined five deep dive sessions about talent, internationalization, funding, product & IP and scalability. In each session we exchange experiences and questions on the subject, accompanied by experts. At the end of the session we go through a top 5 of the most urgent items to gain new insights in. We were very excited to meet Chris Hall (Bynder) and Peter van der Does (Adyen). And there are still more sessions with more amazing experts to come. And a final round: the Connection Day, where we will meet a whole bunch of experts to helps us to the next level.

Our whole team got a tremendous boost from the program, the moderators, the other scale-ups and experts. I can’t wait to share the outcomes of the RISE program. It will put us that much closer to net zero carbon real estate for all.

Who’ll take the first steps towards increased sustainability?

The energy demands of real estate will need to be reduced by 70% over the next 30 years if we are to comply with the Paris climate agreement. (Source: Dutch Green Building Council) This sustainability increase will by no means be easy to achieve, however. One of the underlying roadblocks is the vicious circle of blame in which building owners, tenants, consultants, and developers transfer the responsibility for taking initial steps to each other. Thankfully, more and more of the parties involved are looking to break the cycle so how can that be done?

In a circle of blame, the parties involved in the building process expect someone else to take the initiative for extra sustainability measures. As a result, everyone ends up waiting for the other to act and, in the meantime, does only what is legally required. Building owners wait for the demand, tenants cannot find a sustainable offer, real estate developers are given insufficient budgets, and consultants remove sustainable solutions from the plan as the intended owners cannot see the demand.

The real estate sector has become highly specialised and fragmented over the years. Where a single stakeholder would previously take on multiple roles (owners developed, built, and acted as consultant), now there are specific parties involved. This increases the importance of communication and enhances the chance of diverging interests. But there’s also a great deal of new knowledge available related to sustainable materials, building processes, partnerships, and climate impact. And there is a large and urgent problem for all stakeholders: the CO2 footprint must be reduced as quickly as possible. This means that all stakeholders have to make a choice to up or out: if you don’t take responsibility, you’ll no longer matter.

 

The circle of blame is basically the theory of split incentives on steroids. A split incentive involves the contrast between tenant and owner: tenants wish to live or work in a more sustainable way but not pay the price, while owners do not see the benefits of increasing a building’s sustainability as someone else benefits from the savings.

 

The circle of blame involves more parties than the split incentive. It is often found in the development of new buildings, which – in fact – is the perfect time to be thinking about sustainability.

 

Split incentives and the circle of blame both come down to the same thing: insufficient communication on the needs and options, and no party stepping forward to take responsibility for the process of increasing sustainability. There is no problem owner.

 

But there is hope. An increasing number of parties involved in the real estate sector are finding innovative solutions. Check out our whitepaper if you would like to know what’s possible. It provides more background, various solutions, and the views of experts from leading companies such as Avignon Capital, KPMG, and Aedes.

 

 

Read the whitepaper >>

 

Sustainable together

In our whitepaper, we described four categories of measures that help turn a circle of blame into a shared aim.

hello energy also helps. The software collects buildings’ energy and sustainability data, connects, and compares the data streams. That data is transformed into stories and visualisations. In doing so, all stakeholders are engaged in the sustainability mission. Whether they be owner, tenant, or visitor. All parties in the circle of blame know what’s up.

The three buildings below use hello energy and fix the circle of blame: Danzigerkade, Spaces, en Triodos Bank. In the table, you will find out which building used which measures.

All of these parties broke the circle in their own way. There are many ways to skin a cat. In this case study, we will focus on Spaces. What measures were used to get to shared aim?

There are Spaces buildings all around the world. They are office buildings in which members rent fixed spaces or subscribe to flex desks.

Return on investment

All these buildings are furnished. In a beautiful and user-friendly way, of course. But also in a sustainable way. Raymond Brom, property manager, knows all about that: “That furniture is an important part of our business model. We choose sustainable materials and high quality. And we make optimal use of the surface available. That means there are hardly any square metres we don’t use.” The quality and placement of the furniture isn’t the only thing of importance. Brom also tries making it as timeless as possible, so it doesn’t need to be replaced after a few years.

Brom sees sustainable investments as savings above all else. “Our business cases make sense and we make sure to earn back our investments. choosing a sustainable solution isn’t always on our own initiative. In some cases, local governments demand it. Even in such a case we try to argue in favour of the measure by framing it as cost-saving.” That’s not always possible. “waste separation for example costs more than you save… for now, in any case. Of course, it does save a lot for society at large.”

Governments as stimulator and discourager

Over the past years, Brom has seen more and more government activity in sustainability. Last year, the Netherlands saw new legislation that required all big commercial buildings to communicate the sustainable measures they had already taken and those yet to come. And Brom notices more and more cheques by government parties. However, the influence on Spaces is limited: “it is in our DNA to be sustainable. When new legislation comes along, we usually find we already tick all the boxes and no further action is necessary.”

Behavioural change in all stakeholders

An important stimulus for sustainability is conviction and ambition. “Every day we are confronted with this reality: the earth is warming, and sustainability is more important than ever before. If you can make a change, however small, that makes you feel good. And it motivates you to keep on keeping on and share that conviction.” How does one share such a personal ideal with coworkers? “Sustainable ideals are not a standard point on our meetings’ agendas. It’s in our company culture. I notice it in the small things, like the reusable water bottles that are on everybody’s desk. That change happens automatically, we don’t need to discuss it first. We also see it in our business clubs where the caterer provides special taps.”

In some cases, the stimulus is external. “A few of our tenants’ core business is sustainability. GRESB for example. it makes me extra proud to have them be one of our tenants. These are the kind of parties that ask us critical questions: Do we use renewable energy sources? Are we separating our waste? What is our energy usage? Those are kinds of questions that keep us sharp. and it feels extra good to be able to answer such a question positively. “Yes, we do all of those things. And the energy usage and our carbon footprint can be followed live in our hello energy portal.”

At the Spaces building in the Amsterdam South business district, saving energy is a priority. Brom: “Throughout the years, taxes on energy have gone up. And the energy itself has become more expensive. In order to stay ahead with those costs, we had to save on energy usage. Using hello energy, we decided that in this particular case the best solution was to exchange older bulbs for LED lamps.”

Real estate investor NSI owns this particular building, making NSI another stakeholder in its future. Thankfully, the investor has a strong green agenda. Both parties use hello energy. The shared insights are a great starting point for greening the building. And being on the same page from the start makes the journey towards sustainability easier and faster

Summary

Spaces has succeeded in making its portfolio more sustainable year after year. imparts by formulating shared aim with building owners together. And so can you! A great first step is to find out where you have come from and to share those insights. Contact us to find out how we can help.

P.S. Curious what those other buildings that use hello energy like Triodos Bank and Danzigerkade? Let us know. We love to share our knowledge.

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