With all eyes on the BTR sector, having shown its resilience in face of economic turmoil, there are other key consideration now moving up the agenda. Central amongst these considerations, and heavily discussed at the recent BTR London forum, was the role of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG).
Covering a broad range of issues and practicalities ESG has implications for investors, operators and residents. Under the banner of ESG are consideration around the sustainability, energy efficiency and waste management of a building, but also the health and wellness of residents.
Addressing the physical asset, ESG is an increasingly relevant consideration for investors and operators for practical, not just ideological, reasons. With Government targets for carbon net zero aimed for by 2050, or 2045 in Scotland, the value of preventing future obsolescence, or expensive remediation, is obvious. For investor, having an asset that will retain its value as legislation changes is also highly desirable. Increasingly there are measures which provide investors and operators greater insight into the physical impact of their building and its efficiency, but also the monetary value of the social impact they are having.
For residents, ESG has a greater relevance for their health and wellbeing. The scale and design of BTR schemes, with an emphasis on communal space, on-site facilities, often sporting facilities, social space and networks, as well as investment in green public realm and activity travel measures, elevate many BTR scheme above standard rental units in terms of lifestyle, health and wellbeing. These factors have benefits for individuals as well as wider societal benefits.
The compelling combination of drivers for a proactive ESG approach has seen many investors create ESG frameworks and targets, and this is only likely to become more central as the nascent BTR sectors, especially in Scotland, develops and moves closer to Government target deadlines.
Also on the agenda at the BTR London Forum were discussions over the importance of local knowledge and nuance in the application of operational management. Partially highlighted by the pandemic, there has been a growing acknowledgement that one size of service does not fit all in the UK context. The understanding of regional difference can impact the success of a BTR scheme, is one well established in our own approach where different schemes may need a different approach to ensure the best operation of the asset, and the highest residents satisfaction.
As the BTR sectors continues to emerge in Scotland, the integration of forward-thinking planning, proactive ESG strategy, and the nuanced application of asset management, will be central to the success of new schemes being delivered in the new post pandemic context.