Measuring the ‘S’ in ESG

June 15th, 2022

Ami Kotecha moderated a webinar with CULS (Cambridge University Land Society), sponsored by Savills, on 26th May as part of its ESG series, exploring the role of social cohesion in the built environment and the best way to measure social impact.

As Chair of the ESG & Sustainability Forum, Ami leads on the Society’s ESG agenda by engaging industry experts in debate on the objectives, implementation, and impact of ESG on its members and their organisations.

The panel, comprising Eime Tobari (Founder & Director, COCREATIF), Sophia Gibson (Associate Director, Social Value Lead, CBRE), Pete Gladwell (Group Social Impact & Investment Director, L&G), and Guy Battle (CEO, Social Value Portal), discussed how real estate organisations can measure their impact on society, how social value is transforming the supply chain to make good go further, and how it can help overcome a ‘deficit of trust’ in the sector.

Social value is created when buildings, places, and infrastructure support environmental, economic, and social wellbeing, and in doing so, improve the quality of life of people. In practice this is measurable through deliverables such as employment for local people, adopting local supply chains, investing in energy-efficiency, offering use of accessible spaces to communities, and directly curating community events.

The built environment isn’t about bricks and mortar, but rather people and communities. By focusing on ‘people, place, planet’, social value can be the golden thread that delivers benefits to the local community through the lifecycle of a development, from community consultation and planning through to construction, property management, and occupation. A building is not just an asset to deliver rental income and capital growth; it’s an asset for local people that delivers social cohesion and community gains.

To achieve this, businesses need to put people back at the heart of what they do and ask themselves if they are genuinely benefitting communities and creating spaces where people can thrive. This requires strong collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Considering a YouGov survey carried out by Grosvenor in 2019 shows that only 2% of people trust developers, creating strong social value presents a valuable opportunity for the real estate sector to set about rebuilding trust and reputation.

To watch the full webinar, please click here.