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Investa lays claim to first Science Based Target in Australian real estate

151 Clarence Street Sydney
Arup offices at 151 Clarence Street Sydney, a building owned and manage by Investa

Investa claims it is the first property company in Australian to achieve an approved real estate Science Based Target.

The company committed to net zero emissions by 2040 in 2016 across its office portfolio and business operations. 

Science Based Targets, devised by the CDP, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and WWF, map the path to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly companies need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

To be deemed “science based”, targets adopted by companies must fit with the science of climate change and the commitment to keep global warming to below two degrees Celsius, with the intention of driving ambitious corporate climate action. 

As well as adhering to the Paris Agreement of two degrees Celsius, an SBT requires the company to commit to and meet a set of sector-based scope 1, 2 and 3 reduction targets.

Certifying organisations must also address supply chain (scope 3) emissions. Tenant emissions – which have long posed a challenge for most office managers – fall into this category.

“To date, the Australian real estate sector limits emission reporting to scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect base building operations only,” Investa general manager, corporate sustainability Nina James said.

“Investa has gone beyond managing just our own corporate emission responsibilities, to now target reductions in total building consumption, enabling our tenants to join us in transitioning to a low carbon economy and having a broader impact on the communities in which we operate,” she said.

Ms James told The Fifth Estate that tenant emissions is the “obvious next challenge” in commercial real estate.

Engaging “100,000 people every day to reduce their energy consumption” comes with its share of challenges, she said, “but for us, it’s expanding the boundary of our influence.”

The company has taken a number of steps to help tenants improve their own emissions performance. For instance, it introduced what it claims is the industry’s first “performance lease” in 2018, which requires tenants to share resource consumption data with the building owner. 

The lease project came out of the Better Building Partnership, Ms James said and is about embedding sustainability throughout the entire lease document.

The company also released an online, publicly available toolkit last year pitched at teaching its tenants about the environmental performance of their buildings.

Its tenants now have access to a variety of resources, including animated data visualisations that convey the technical environmental performance data of the buildings. 

So far, Ms James said the toolkit has received good feedback from tenants. “A lot of organisations are taking onboard the expertise.”

Ms James said the plan is to keep evolving the toolkit going forward. The next step, now that tenant data is being collected, is to display that data on the toolkit “in an anonymous way”.

“We’ve worked out a way to do it anonymously so that it sparks the competitive nature in organisations but still protects the business.”

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