Unlock Next Gen team members Gillian Clater and Greg Milburn recently attended the ULI UK 2022 Annual Conference in London and have been left with plenty of food for thought. Here, they share their experience of the event and what they learnt.
What is the conference all about?
Greg Milburn (Graduate Built Environment Researcher) and I, Gillian Clater (Graduate Researcher) were fortunate enough to attend the ULI UK 2022 conference on 5 July. The conference was held inside London’s National Gallery in Trafalgar Square which was a beautiful venue.
The theme of this year’s conference was ESG 2030: The Future of Sustainable Real Estate and discussed the history of ESG, how it has transformed over the years – and what this means in terms of current focus, trends, future ambitions, and expectations of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.
The sessions focused on key areas such as governance and funding, social value implications, and how to align sustainable ambitions to achieve better environmental standards.
Delegates from all around the world attended from all different backgrounds in the sector, which provided a great opportunity for networking. Many of the attendees were also speakers in various sessions and had a range of knowledge and expertise. Speakers included:
- John McManus, Deputy Director of Regeneration Delivery Unit, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
- Ailish Christian-West, Executive Director of Development, ESG & Portfolio Management at Get Living
- Marylis Ramos, Director of Savills Earth
- Guy Battle, CEO of Social Value Portal
- John Davies, Head of Sustainability at Derwent London plc
- Lars Huber, CEO of Hines Europe’s European Region
Speakers covered a multitude of different topics including how the ‘E’ can become a warped focus of ESG and what we can do to rebalance the equation. They also discussed the importance of people and social value in projects, what success really looks like, and the key principles that can allow the sector to effectively manage environmental and social risks and opportunities.
The insights and lessons Gillian took away
I found this conference extremely valuable. As a graduate who joined Places for People and Unlock Next Gen in March, I’m still getting to know the ropes of the organisation, the wider housing sector, and the environment, and this conference really gave me the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into ESG issues and how important they are both now and in the future.
I left the conference with a lot of points to think about and a few questions, including:
- EPC ratings do not show true energy performance as they are used differently throughout the world. In some countries regulations makes it easier to achieve a higher EPC, therefore standards cannot be compared. How can each nation align standards to allow for global comparison in sustainability?
- Social value can be around 40%-50% of the cost of a building. It is important to add social value to communities where possible but also sustain social value that already exists. How do we measure social value when it is not solely a financial factor?
- We are currently building based on the standards we have set now and what we imagine for the future, but these standards could change or be different than what we envisioned. How do we deal with this degree of uncertainty?