Commercial property investors are at risk of being left behind financially due to increased building inefficiency and slow implementation of sustainable practices and digitisation strategies across portfolios, warns an industry expert.

In a recent publication covering the European market, commercial real estate experts CBRE revealed that while positive strides have been made, property managers are moving too slowly to adopt greener practices. This is despite evidence showing green strategies have significant commercial benefits, such as driving higher rents and occupant retention – echoing the findings of a similar UK-focused CBRE report from a year prior.

With this in mind, Cillian Casey, regional vice-president EMEA at CIM, is calling for decisive action to improve portfolio sustainability. He said: “The fact that two separate reports, published a year apart and to different regions, have come to the same conclusion about sustainability’s appeal to tenants clearly sends a strong message that decisive action is needed. Commercial property investors and managers need to accelerate the adoption of greener practices and equipment, especially given the property sector’s vital role in achieving net zero by 2050.

“Promptly ensuring operational efficiency across portfolios will be key to immediate emissions reduction, with data analytics technology set to play a pivotal role in this, especially as energy demand continues to grow. However, untangling the sheer volume of data to determine priority actions remains a major challenge for facilities managers given the overstretched nature of many facilities and operational teams.”

With property operations accounting for 28% of global carbon operations and the fact that 80% of 2050’s buildings have already been built, the need for immediate steps is crucial. According to Mr Casey, optimising operations with data offers a more financially prudent route than alternatives such as carbon offsetting, given predictions offsetting prices will rise exponentially in the near future.

“The current external cost of carbon offset purchasing undoubtedly has an appeal for building owners and investors, but priority should be given to driving everyday efficiencies and optimisations in the way buildings are run,” he concludes. “Organisations may leave themselves in a precarious position as costs rise, and by not prioritising or considering alternative options, they could be vulnerable to an ever-worsening financial situation that could have been avoided.

“By digitising operations across portfolios through the use of data-driven detection and diagnostics software such as CIM’s PEAK platform, stakeholders can take immediate steps toward more efficient and sustainable building performance. As this latest CBRE report shows, greener buildings are very attractive to prospective tenants, and therefore command higher rental yields. By embracing change now, commercial property owners and managers can create immediate additional value for businesses while emissions are lowered.”