Editor's Letter: A siloed approach to sustainability will not enact the impact we need

Recently, our conversations and focus have been on the three p’s: pandemic, pingdemic and petroldemic.

However, the biggest catastrophe we all face, despite it looming on the horizon for decades, is the climate crisis. Scientists have been banging the drum about its affects for years, yet it seems only recently that businesses have started to consider and vocalise their ESG plans. 

As we strive to become plastic free, the Bridging & Commercial Magazine has been considering its own carbon footprint and has replaced its plastic wrap for a recyclable paper one — thanks to support from West One. We hope to continue this for the foreseeable future. 

We also constantly review many aspects of the production process, as we believe that everyone should play a part in looking after our planet for future generations. Our publications are printed by The Magazine Printing Company, part of Stephens & George Ltd, which is an award-winning environmentally-friendly printer based in Wales. Copies are produced using vegetable-based inks combined with the latest chemical-free plate and Heidelberg press technology. All of our paper is sourced from well-managed, sustainable forests, and their vast supply-chain holds many environmental accreditations. In addition to this, they hold a Climate Change Agreement and offer Carbon Balancing via The World Land Trust.  

We also distribute our titles to our readers using a minimum amount of transportation and are constantly looking for improvements which will have a positive outcome on the world around us.

The long-awaited COP26 summit started this week, and we can expect more announcements that will lead to major changes to our industry and everyday lives. Most discerning people have thought about how they, individually, contribute to the crisis, and what steps they can take to limit this. I for one avoid fast fashion where possible, opt for eco-packaged products created locally, and live a vegan lifestyle (check out my restaurant recommendations). However, a siloed approach will not enact the impact we need. 

When I started researching for the Sustainability Issue, I quickly realised the staggering affect the built environment has on the environment and how my role as a journalist could spread awareness and encourage changes in this high carbon-emitting sector—much more so than whether or not I use a plastic straw. 

Unpredictable weather will significantly impact livelihoods and homes—and the latter is something the property industry has to get a handle on, and quickly. This is why I took a very deep dive into how far away the property finance industry is from a green industrial revolution. Spoiler alert: pretty far. Hopefully our experts’ top tips and advice will push more companies in our sector to make sustainable housebuilding the priority it needs to be. 

Elsewhere, we speak to Uplift Finance about how being ethical and commercial don’t have to be thought about separately, find out what six other countries are doing to make building greener, and quiz Stonewater’s John Bruton on what its £250m sustainability bond will bring to the affordable housing market.

While this issue of the magazine is eye-opening in terms of how slow take up has been so far in terms of sustainability, there are signs that businesses are working hard behind the scenes to solve some of the challenges. For example, development lender Atelier exclusively revealed to Bridging & Commercial that it will soon be piloting a £25m initiative that could save sustainable developers six figures on their loans. While the lender will be bearing the price reduction at this stage, its learnings will pave the way for a much more lucrative and climate-friendly future—something all companies in the specialist finance arena should take note of. In the words of its co-founder Chris Garderner: “If you want to run a lending business, you need to understand this stuff or you’re dead. This is survival.”

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