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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Property Management, Volume 33, Issue 5.
The final issue of Property Management for 2015 has a sustainability focus with three of the five papers addressing issues related to sustainable development and climate change. Sustainability continues to be high on the agenda of most property managers. In the commercial sector particularly property managers need to deal with a wide range of sustainability issues in order to satisfy tenant demand and legislative requirements while still maintaining a return on investment. The number of sustainability rating systems continues to grow with many countries developing their own rating system either in isolation or under the umbrella of the World Green Building Council (WGBC). The WGBC now has 74 member countries many of which have established rating systems of their own, while global leaders such as the USA Green Building Council’s rating tool LEED and the UK BREAM tools seek to compete around the world against local rating systems. This raises the concern that rather than establishing a global sustainable building standard, with local adjustments to account for varying climate conditions, the competition between rating tools could lead to a reduction in standards in order to gain market share. The counter argument to this of course, is that competition will serve to reduce costs and increase the quality of the rating system. It remains to be seen which scenario will play-out and property managers will need to monitor these developments over the coming years.
In addition to the voluntary rating schemes governments are increasingly introducing mandatory reporting requirements on property owners such as, the energy rating certificates in the UK and Building Energy Efficiency Certificates in Australia. These schemes seek to make publicly available the energy rating of the building and thus lead to consumer choice in selecting a building to occupy and hence competition between building owners to attain higher ratings; each of these measures, along with the growing technical nature of building management systems, increases the complexity and cost of property management. Property managers need to keep pace with this changing sustainability agenda to ensure their buildings performance does not fall behind leading to early building obsolescence. The papers in this issue of Property Management will go some way to ensuring property managers remain informed of contemporary sustainability issues.
The first paper in this issue comes from Alirat Olayinka Agboola from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. The paper is titled; “Neoclassical economics and new institutional economics: an assessment of their methodological implication for property market analysis”. The paper is a desk top study that provides an in-depth examination of the provisions, assumptions, philosophical orientations and limitations of neoclassical economics and new institutional economics, towards the achievement of a representative study of the workings of the property market in Nigeria. While highly theoretical the paper does provide some interesting insight into the operation of the property market.
The second paper is by Peter Jones and Daphne Comfort, from the University of Gloucestershire together with David Hillier, of the University of South Wales. Their paper is entitled “Materiality and external assurance in corporate sustainability reporting: an exploratory study of UK house builders”. As the title suggest this is a case study research paper which examines the extent to which the UK house builders are embracing the concept of materiality and commissioning independent external assurance as part of their sustainability reporting. The findings show that only a minority of the top 20 house builders had embraced materiality or commissioned some form of independent external assurance or verification as an integral part of their sustainability reporting process. While a UK research paper the findings may have some general application in other regions of the world.
Paper three in this issue is written by Muhammad Najib Razali, from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Yasmin Mohd Adnan, from Universiti Malaya. Their paper title is “Sustainable property development by Malaysian property companies”. The paper uses company website analysis to assess the sustainability strategies of 79 leading property development companies in Malaysia. The research adopts a scoring matrix against which to evaluate the companies, but finds that the concept of sustainable property development is poorly developed among these companies.
The fourth paper comes from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. The authors are Dulani Halvitigala and Richard G. Reed. Their paper is entitled “Identifying Adaptive strategies employed by office building investors” and analyses to what extent investors in New Zealand address tenants’ changing demand for office space with reference to layouts in new and existing office buildings. The paper adopts a qualitative methodology with interviews conducted with property trust portfolio managers. The findings confirmed that property investors incorporate several adaptive and flexible space design specifications in their modern office buildings to enhance space flexibility and functional efficiency in order to attract and retain tenants. This research, while conduct in New Zealand will be of interest to portfolio managers in most developed property markets.
The final paper also has a sustainability focus this time evaluating the risks to the built environment of predicted climate change. The paper is written by a team at University of Regensburg, Germany. The authors are Jens Hirsch, Thomas Braun and Sven Bienert and is entitled “Assessment of climatic risks for real estate”. The paper investigates the functionality and main results of the ImmoRisk tool, which was developed as a user-friendly tool that provides a basis with which to evaluate the risk situation caused by extreme weather events. The tool calculates the annual expected losses for different types of extreme weather hazard and the damage rate a proportion of building value. The results of this evaluation provide a sound basis on which to develop responses to extreme weather events and have application far beyond the study area in Germany.
I hope that you enjoy this issue of Property Management and find the research presented interesting and of some practical application in current research projects or in the physical management of assets. Thank you for your support of Property Management and, as always, I urge you to provide feedback on the papers presented and to consider submitting your research for publication within the Journal.
Clive M.J. Warren