Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Property Management, Volume 29, Issue 5
Welcome to the final issue of Property Management volume 29 bringing a close to 2011. Yet again this year has been another eventful one for property managers around the world. It would seem two major issues for our industry have arrested our debates in both the Journal and at leading international conferences. Shortly before writing this editorial I attended both the European and Asian Real Estate Society Conferences and it was interesting to note that at both of these events there was a very significant shift towards papers addressing issues of green building and the valuation and management of sustainable buildings. These two conferences, along with the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference at the start of the year, presented research papers which analysed transactional data particularly from the USA and UK to indicate that the market is starting to show discernible price and yield effects of having a green building accreditation attached to the property. What also emerged from much of this research is that it is very difficult to isolate the sustainability features of a building from other aspects and the general volatility in the market, particularly at this time of prolonged economic uncertainty.
Two interesting themes seem to emerge from the discussions around sustainable building and the added value of such investments; the first is that it is not clear what a sustainable building really is! We all know that there are an ever-growing number of internationally recognised evaluation tools, including BREEAM, LEED and Green Star, against which to rate a building, but how do these measures really compare against a well-designed, good quality office building? Is there really a difference? Indeed, even without a green accreditation, would anyone set out to build an unsustainable building? Are we really only looking to compare good quality new buildings which may, or may not, have a four star rating with the high flying six star sustainable buildings? Also flowing from this is the need for some level of international common metric with the various rating organisations seeking to arrive at a common measure of sustainability, rather than, as is currently the case trying to compete against one another in different markets around the world. There is some early work being undertaken by the International Green Building Council. It is trying to achieve some uniformity of metrics and to establish a method of on-going accreditation in order to find a reliable method of comparing properties from one year to the next. With such growing international interest in all aspects of developing and managing sustainable buildings, I would welcome more papers in this area of research. In the near future I will put out a call for contributions to a special issue of Property Management dealing exclusively with green/sustainability issues.
The second major issue of 2011, in my view, is somewhat related to the issue of sustainability as it is the increasing incidence of natural disasters, many of which are being attributed to the effects of climate change. This year has seen a number of major disasters severely impacting on property managers in the affected regions. The earthquake in Christchurch and tsunami in Japan were disasters on a major scale and will take many years for the community to recover. On a much smaller scale, but one on my own doorstep, the devastating floods in Queensland destroyed many homes and severely disrupted business in the State Capital for several months. The apparently growing incidence of climate-related natural disasters will have an increasing effect on the built environment and the way that we manage property. As property managers we need to undertake thorough risk assessments find methods of mitigating the risks and develop building resilience to natural disasters. At the end of this issue there is a book review on a recent text dealing with many of the issues we face in adapting to climate-related disasters that may be of interest to you. There is also a need for more research in this important area of building resilience and disaster planning for property managers and I would welcome any further papers in this area.
As for this issue of the Property Management, it once again brings an interesting mix of property management research papers, this time from researchers in Europe and Africa. The first paper, by Nicholas Boamah, is an investigation into the housing finance markets in Ghana. The paper provides some very interesting insights into the operation of the market in this region, but also serves to illustrate the similarities with other parts of the world. The second paper, by Carlo Vermiglio, is an evaluation of the property management function by Italian local government authorities. The paper discusses the management processes adopted and the balance between owner management and the outsourcing to external service providers. It seems that public sector asset managers face the same issues throughout the world and this paper is a fascinating insight into the management processes of the Italian public sector.
The third paper in this issue is by Hilde Remøy and her colleagues at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. The paper presents a case study approach to demonstrate the benefits of building commercial offices with an eye to future adaptation to alternative uses. Such approaches will surely increase the potential sustainability of the buildings and prolong their useful life. This paper picks up on the issue of sustainability and the need to future proof our new building stock by ensuring a potential for a longer life with maximum recycling of building elements.
Then we head to Sweden with paper four being written by Samuel Azasu a development practitioner there. The paper looks at the operation of Swedish real estate firms and the structure of payments and incentives in the market. This is a timely piece of research as we continue to recover from the GFC and the property markets and managers seek to compete for investment funding.
The final paper is an investigation into the processes of the education of future property professionals and is written by Joanna Poon and colleagues. This is another interesting area of research that is gaining some considerable level of interest as universities compete for students. The paper reports on surveys of students, universities and employers in the UK and seeks to inform curriculum design. This paper adds to the growing debate about how and what universities should be doing to educate the next generation of professionals. With a need to meet the expectations of employers and the professional bodies as well as ensuring that students become critical thinkers and the next leaders of the property industry, it is always a question of balance.
I hope that the variety of the collection of papers in this edition provides you with an academic analysis of property and market transactions as well as some practical tools that can be employed when evaluating property transactions. Please remember your feedback is always welcome.