Our Sustainability Approach – Start Now

Ben Lisle, Managing Director

When founding Hesperia, we believed our business could be a vehicle for improving the places we work and live in terms of our environment, society and economy.

In the short period since we started our company, COVID has brought great uncertainty and change. It has accelerated many trends, including the drive for greater sustainability and action on climate change.

We firmly believe that action on climate is a critical part of our overall sustainability approach, interlinked with our wide-ranging ESG commitments that encompass ecology led design, planning, research and development and a focus on enhancing our unique flora and fauna, while delivering better social outcomes.

Not withstanding how critical it is to move quickly on climate change, we believe that many industries and governments are still moving too slowly. They‘re talking about taking decades to achieve carbon neutrality with targets typically being set somewhere between 2030 and 2050.

Hesperia isn’t waiting for some future point to address this issue. We appreciate the urgency to address this critical issue now. Critically, we don’t see the need for improved action on climate change as a threat, we see an opportunity for differentiation and investment.

There is no doubt that sustainability is good for the environment and community, however, it’s also good for business and increasingly important to tenants, purchasers and financiers. Individually and collectively, they’re placing an increasing emphasis on better environmental outcomes from future developments.

Global building and construction is responsible for 36 per cent of energy consumption, 38 per cent of energy related carbon emissions and 50 per cent of resource consumption so action now is essential.
Our commitment to sustainability is now integrated within all levels of our operations and projects.

Hesperia has a dedicated sustainability group that captures and delivers on opportunities within each project, as well as delivering on wider environmental objectives.

All Hesperia projects now start with clear sustainability goals, strategies and budgets. Foremost is that projects must be carbon neutral across both embodied carbon and ongoing operations. With our focus on acting immediately, we don’t see why all our projects can’t be carbon neutral now.

We recently signed the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow at which 43 international businesses pledged to help decarbonise the built environment by:

• reducing all operational emissions of new and existing built assets;
• achieving maximum reductions in embodied carbon for new developments and major renovations over which we have direct control;
• compensating for any residual operational and upfront embodied emissions that cannot be mitigated; and
• advocating for wider emission reductions via our business activities to accelerate a sector wide transition to net zero.

Once you’ve made the commitment to go carbon neutral immediately its all about how. When the issue is as important and urgent as climate change, it’s better to set the goal and move forward quickly and manage out major risks – learning and adapting as you go. We recognise that there is a learning curve, but we’d rather take action now. We take the view that if you are open to learning and collaborating there is always a way to achieve your goals.

Our approach to carbon neutrality is to first minimise embodied carbon through efficient design and the use of low carbon materials and recycled materials wherever we can. The carbon emissions associated with the materials and building process can be just as significant as the ongoing carbon emissions associated with the operation of facilities when considering an entire property lifecycle.

Similarly, we minimise operating carbon emissions through energy efficient design including thermally efficient construction, efficient heating and cooling solutions and low energy lighting and materials selection. Where we don’t operate a building directly we work with tenants to help them optimise their operations.

To the extent that carbon emissions cannot be mitigated, we then purchase offsets from projects that sequester carbon whilst delivering broader environmental and social outcomes, with at least 50% of these offsets being sourced from Australian biodiversity-based projects that deliver high quality revegetation.

Our initiatives have opened up opportunities to develop and invest in sustainability solutions in our own right. Hesperia is investing in renewable energy offerings for our tenants and purchasers, pursuing carbon farming opportunities and construction waste recycling businesses that in the first instance support our projects, but which will ultimately provide sustainability solutions to the broader property industry.

Our commitment to social and environmental outcomes has been fundamental to Hesperia becoming WA’s first B Corporation in the property sector. This success required a rigorous independent evaluation of our practices and policies over 12 months to confirm we have the highest levels of operational, social and environmental performance.

We feel our approach fundamentally differentiates us from the traditional approaches of the property sector and makes us a part of the solution rather than the part of problem, which is what society increasingly expects. The time to act is now, there is no time to waste.

This article was originally published in Business News as ‘Sustainability Starts Now’