News

December 20th, 2022

Overcoming the disconnect between capital, design and operation in BTR

Highly energy-efficient buildings are at the top of the list for institutional investors when it comes to selecting opportunities, particularly pension funds who are acutely focused on future proofing portfolios, given their long-term hold play. The macro-economic energy crisis pushing up the price of utilities has served only to heighten capital focus on energy performance and the push for developers to bring forward those opportunities presenting the highest possible ESG credentials.

 

But designing and building a market-leading energy efficient building is one thing; operating it to its optimum performance is quite another. Its ultimate success requires the operator and residents to be fully educated and aligned in how to use the building effectively. This will rely on the use of technology, to minimise energy use and optimise performance. So how can we identify and rectify the inevitable gaps between stakeholders (capital, developers, contractors, professional team, operators, and residents) and successfully influence behaviour to not only create highly energy efficient buildings, but maximise their potential for in-use energy performance?

 

This was the topic I and my co-panellists, Polly Simpson (Head of Multifamily Development at Savills), Sam Winnard (BTR Operations Head at PIC) and Simon Bayliss (Managing Partner at HTA) tackled at the recent UKAA Conference. We agreed there has long been a perception that creating “green” buildings has a significant impact on the financial viability of a project, but if embedded within the strategy early and incorporated into design at the outset, then the cost impact can be limited. In fact, it will be financially accretive given the capital’s move towards a “green premium” / “brown discount” mentality.

 

By creating an air-tight building and incorporating passive measures, with highly efficient energy systems and maximum on-site renewable capacities for generation and storage, operational energy requirements are immediately reduced, making the challenge of operator and resident collaboration more manageable.

 

But from that point forward, it takes a combination of technology, clear information and education to drive meaningful long-term change in resident behaviour. Smart BMS systems and sensors that monitor in-use energy and provide KPIs to the operator and residents, must be used alongside resident education, providing clear, jargon-free information about personal energy usage patterns. Friendly competition can help, as can bonus systems to reward responsible energy usage, but the key is providing solid information that gives residents a simple overview of their carbon footprint and helpful recommendations for reducing it.

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December 5th, 2022

Deliver environmental and social impact to benefit from ‘green premium’ in yields

Embedding ESG into modelling financial returns is a no-brainer for residential investors who seek to deliver long term, sustainable rental growth. Not only are tenants increasingly motivated by decarbonisation and a healthy living environment, but the volume of capital that investors are currently seeking to deploy on assets that deliver on ESG and comply with Article 8 funds under SFDR, is already far greater than the volume of suitable available deals.

 

As the appetite for assets that meet ESG requirements has grown, so has the level of scrutiny. Through their own commitment to ESG, capital partners are increasingly examining the extent of impact generated in terms of environmental and social value. The process involves assessing carbon emissions and health and well-being metrics through the lifecycle of an asset – from the feasibility stage through to procurement and operational stages, including estimations of residual emissions liabilities.

 

In the residential sector there are significant benefits of embedding ESG principles from the outset –  right from securing planning permission at one end to meeting the growing demand from discerning tenants who desire to live in energy-efficient properties with quality outdoor spaces and connected communities. In the short term, we expect that assets that score highly on ESG criteria can deliver a ‘green premium’ in yields, but in the long term we hope that the residential sector as a whole works towards embedding ESG criteria into all projects – not only to avoid being caught out by asset-stranding risks, but to best serve our occupiers and avoid the existential climate crisis that we face.

 

By making environmental and social impact key project outcomes, we could enhance our sector’s capacity to assesss, specify, procure and deliver against relevant metrics. For example, improving carbon literacy across every department within our organisations and among stakeholders, customers and our wider networks, would help with obtaining the required buy-in to deliver on ESG criteria. The reality of reaching net zero presupposed a greater degree of alignment with funders who care about ESG outcomes. Equally, it also means being more selective with contractors and suppliers, declining to work with those who don’t comply, and making difficult decisions around procurement, finance and HR.

 

None of this will be easy, and it will only get more expensive if we don’t act today. As the climate emergency deepens we should, by now, be aware that not doing anything is going to cost us all much more over the long-term. The strategy for our flagship co-living project in Kingston, The Rex, pivoted in summer 2021 from a new build to a retrofit to ensure the project achieves the highest possible sustainability credentials due to low embodied carbon use, far surpassing RICS 2030 emissions targets. This meant going back to the drawing board and starting again. Design compromises have had to be made as we work through the challenges that inevitably arise when reusing an existing building. But a fundamental change in mindset is needed to reduce the volume of construction work undertaken in the built environment, meaning opportunities for refurbishment and reuse must always be exhausted before a new build is even considered. To truly transform from a ‘take, make, waste’ economy to a zero-waste economy, the focus must be on reusing resources we have already extracted, considering our cities as material banks, digitalising waste, and connecting companies with non-profits and businesses to redistribute and create circular economies.

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November 21st, 2022

Thumbs up for The Green Rooms at HomeViews Awards

 

The Green Rooms in MediaCityUK, managed by Amro Living, has won new accolades at this year’s HomeViews Build to Rent Resident Choice Awards where it was once again voted one of the best BTR developments in the North West.

 

Based on verified resident reviews from the last twelve months, The Green Rooms came a remarkable 6th out of 176 BTR developments in the region – and was named one of the top BTR developments in the UK under 300 units.

 

Acknowledging the outstanding contribution of General Manager Avril Portch and her team, who work tirelessly to maintain the highest standards and create a thriving, successful community, Homeviews also awarded the development a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Team of the Year category.

 

The Green Rooms is a 238-unit multifamily scheme located in the heart of Salford’s vibrant cultural hub, with views overlooking the waterfront and Manchester’s iconic skyline.

 

Celebrating the Build to Rent Industry’s best performers, the Homeviews Awards draws on review data from 89% of the UK’s completed BTR projects, making it the most comprehensive source of views and insights from residents

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November 15th, 2022

Amro Sevilla scoops Best Sustainable Student Property award!

We’re thrilled to announce that Amro Sevilla won the Best Sustainable Student Property award at the Class Foundation’s Best in Class Awards last night in Madrid.

 

This category celebrates the innovative student housing project that has most successfully incorporated sustainability throughout its design, construction and operation, paving the way for next generation living.

 

A genuinely trailblazing PBSA development, Amro Sevilla is the first building of its kind in Europe to achieve BREEAM Outstanding, Fitwel 3* and WiredScore Platinum ratings, setting a new standard for the sector.

 

It produces operational emissions of just 11.2kg CO2 / sqm per year, representing a remarkable 75% improvement on efficiency standards compared to the wider market and superseding RIBA 2025 emissions objectives by 12%.

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November 15th, 2022

Amro shortlisted for UK PropTech Sustainability Award

We’re excited to be shortlisted in the ‘Environmental Impact’ category of the UK PropTech Association Annual Awards 2022, honouring organisations that place sustainability and technology-led sustainability solutions at the heart of their operations and performance measurement.

 

The PropTech sector has become the crucial link bridging the gap between the property and tech industries. Driving digitalised, smart processes for decarbonisation of the built environment is the only way the sector can achieve 2030 and 2050 milestones and avoid serious asset stranding risks.

 

At the beginning of this year, we revised our decarbonisation goals and set a new more ambitious NZC2025, reflecting the urgency of the climate crisis and our determination to lead from the front. We’re continuing to invest in climate tech solutions, creating a data-centric model that enables us to deliver the best green, efficient buildings and keep track of our emissions.  This is absolutely crucial for reliable, climate risk-adjusted returns for our investors.

 

The development of our own technology in-house will also help us deliver retrofits at speed and scale to respond to the biggest global challenge and the biggest global opportunity in the built environment sector today.

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