Humans have exceeded the limits of what the planet can cope with in a number of areas. Climate change – and the accompanying call for decarbonisation – is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. The responsibility of states, corporations and every single person, employee and consumer is complex and wide-ranging. The situation demands a new, cross-generational awareness and engenders a sense of global unity.
I n real estate, around 68% of emissions can be attributed to the use phase. To decarbonise a property portfolio, it is essential to understand the components of a carbon footprint and where to source reliable information. The monitoring of energy and carbon emissions implemented at Swiss Prime Site formed the basis for the development of the Company’s CO2 reduction pathway in 2019. The data gathered from this will ensure that we can become a climate-neutral business by 2040 and will serve to monitor our progress along the way.
The goal is clear, but the strategies required are often complex and multi-faceted. The Company’s efforts are focused on the reduction of emissions that can be directly influenced during the use phase of properties. This involves implementing instruments and processes that ensure the supply and production of renewable energy. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions within our own value chain, we must not disregard indirect emissions. Around 30% of these emissions occur during the production of raw materials, along the supply chain and in the materials cycle. It is therefore important to ensure transparency along the supply chain and within our building stock. This is also an area where we can link goals with a reduction strategy.
Swiss Prime Site is confident that, in the long-term, the concept of the circular economy can help to transform buildings into sources of materials with financial value. At the same time, this can make a major contribution to reducing waste. After all, 84% of waste in Switzerland comes from the construction industry. As a result, we need to determine technical cycles (e.g. disassembly) and biological cycles as early as the planning stage. This work is based on the relevant information about materials and their recycling potential. On specific projects such as Müllerstrasse in Zurich, Swiss Prime Site is working together with Madaster Switzerland to optimise recycling capabilities in buildings, create an inventory and make the concept transparent and tangible.
However, the circular economy goes beyond technical and environmental cycles. The changing climate requires a profound transformation and innovation of our current linear economic system. For real estate companies, this means questioning the existing business model and developing it further with new innovative methods, cycle-oriented processes and new forms of collaboration. The key to success lies in a new mindset, reflected in our values and corporate culture. Achieving this depends on continuously raising awareness, sharing knowledge and strengthening our expertise in sustainability.
It is now time to think beyond our established boundaries and linear systems, and to forge ahead boldly with practical examples. Swiss Prime Site is taking this corporate responsibility seriously, promotes innovation and, above all, is seizing the opportunities associated with the necessary transformation.