Climate Change - Impacts On The Development Of Real Estate

By: Paul Giesberg

The fact that climate change will affect our future does not need introduction. Our buildings and infrastructure are important elements in how we influence and adapt to the changes associated with climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions during construction and operation, climate change resilience and changes in the way people will organise their lives are all important factors to consider when preparing to develop new real estate.

To a certain extent these factors are being considered in most new development projects. The partial provision of energy through low carbon technologies is becoming the norm as part of the planning application process for major development. Standards controlling the way flood risk assessments are carried out take into account future precipitation patterns. These considerations are often driven by current requirements from planning authorities or other statutory bodies and focus on the greenhouse gas element of climate change management.

Appraising the effects of climate change on development projects will gain in importance and a strategic and pro-active approach to its integration in the management of these projects has many benefits. These include the improved management of risks, for instance by providing protection against litigation for failing to take into account known future risks, the protection of future asset values and strengthening a forward looking reputation of the organisation.

The near future will see significant changes in the way climate change is being addressed within development projects. The awareness of client organisations and local planning authorities about the effects climate change will have on the future usability of buildings is increasing rapidly. This will lead to a range of new requirements, tools and appraisal methodologies that professionals within the property development sector cannot afford to miss.

Considering climate change in real estate development projects should be considered a strategic issue. At an early stage in the project a developer should prepare a project climate change strategy and consider three issues:

  1. How can the greenhouse gas emissions as part of the development be reduced?
  2. How will a changing climate effect the usability of my building?
  3. Is the building required in its currently proposed form in the mid to long term future?