World Earth Day – 22 April 2020

22 April, 2020

This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Earth Day.  Each year, on 22 April, there is an annual push to raise public awareness about the environment and inspire actions to protect it.  This year, of course, comes amidst a crisis which has forced shutdowns across the world, inadvertently helping the environment.

Here are our 5 sustainable silver linings to the Current COVID Crisis:

  1. Less travel: The current worldwide situation means we are travelling far less and all over the world air pollution levels are showing marked falls. Property professionals along with the rest of the world have embraced opportunities to work remotely and stay connected. When we emerge from this crisis, it is likely a large percentage will follow the growing trend to choose to work from home at least some of the time and cut down their travel on a permanent basis.
  2. Less paper: The Real Estate industry is often subject to criticism for being slow to adopt technologies and change. This is partly because of the need for so called “wet ink” signatures on documentation which will be registered with the HM Land Registry.  However, there are a myriad of other documents which were printed and posted out of habit when we had the luxury of being able to do so.  Now, digital products such as DocuSign and Adobe Scan are making us more efficient, enabling deals to be closed faster than would have been possible before lockdown and trees all over the world are breathing a sigh of relief.
  3. A greater sense of place: With working from home on a sustained basis the new normal, planners, developers, owners and occupiers alike will be reflecting on what makes good working and living space, how these two combine to create a sense of environment. Our homes are now  workstations, home-schools, places to think and exist creatively and to have freedom to adapt between work and leisure.  These experiences  will surely cement the importance of places sympathetic to our wider world in the minds of any developer or any investor’s agenda.
  4. Collaboration: Successful teams and businesses during this crisis will be those that bring   people together effectively. Platforms like Zoom, Teams & Skype make it possible to speak more often across organisations. They also lend themselves to some informality and allow different colleagues to show case different skillsets. These behaviours will change our habits. A more relaxed atmosphere coupled with these diverse skills lends itself to inventiveness.  We will emerge from this crisis with a more creative viewpoint, something those calling for greater collaboration on sustainability in the industry will welcome.
  5. Wellness: protecting people and their wellbeing is at the heart of many decisions being made at the moment. There are many studies showing links between people’s access to naturally green spaces and clean air and their mental wellbeing as well as their productivity. This is has never been more keenly felt than when we are restricted to one daily outing for exercise. Even the most cynical in the industry will be seeing and extolling its values.  This cannot help but  leave its mark on the industry in a positive way.

COVID-19 has raised many challenges for the property industry.  However, it has also given it the impetus it needs to accelerate the pace of change already begun and leave our Earth in a better position in the longer term.