More pragmatic approach to ESG needed to help building owners, investors transition from brown to green: Cushman & Wakefield

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Cushman & Wakefield’s Head of Sustainability & ESG for Asia Pacific, Matthew Clifford

Cushman & Wakefield has launched a series of how-to guides to provide building owners and occupiers with practical, step-by-step advice on transitioning to greener buildings.

The global real estate services company [NYSE:CWK] launched the initiative to help investors, building owners and occupiers who know that the built environment contributes around 40% of global carbon emissions, but are unsure how to take action to improve their own assets’ carbon footprints.

 Cushman & Wakefield’s Head of Sustainability & ESG for Asia Pacific, Matthew Clifford said:

 “Investors know that know sustainability is important. They also want to maximize their returns, and in some cases these goals are starting to clash and misalign.

“There are some really challenging conversations that investors are going through to reach their net zero goals. For groups with a 2030 target, they’ve started to realize that it’s honestly not that far away. It’s really only one investment cycle. So, do they need to double or triple their efforts to make up for years of slow progress, or do they sell underperforming assets now, and reconfigure their portfolio with net zero assets as the target deadlines approach?”

Clifford said that the how-to guides were designed in response to this challenge and aim to provide actionable advice for building owners and occupiers.

About the guides

The first guide, How to Green the Brown, walks owners of brownfield buildings through the transition to green at a macro level with a heavy focus on right-sizing capital expenditure budgets to align with any broader portfolio or investment strategies.

The second guide, How to Retrofit, uses Energy Use Intensity (EUI) as the basis of measurement for any retrofitting plan – a practical solution to overcome the challenges faced by international property players when using country-specific rating systems.

Subsequent guides will focus on managing climate risk, driving governance, delivering net zero, energy optimisation and green leasing.

Clifford said: “Sustainability can be incredibly complex. This puts people off because they don’t understand the detail and it makes them feel stupid. We want to do the opposite. It’s our mission to make sustainability easy to understand – simple, practical, actionable. We want to give people motivation to get started, not reason to look away. We need to keep thinking ahead to give clients as much commercial advantage as we possibly can. I guess at its simplest, it’s about being returns-driven. It’s about linking sustainability to the value of the asset because, at the end of the day, that’s what real estate investment is all about.”

Matthew Clifford is Head of Sustainability & ESG, APAC at Cushman & Wakefield. He speaks on sustainable real estate, decarbonization/net zero, asset optimization and renewable energy with a focus on driving returns for investors and improving margins for occupiers. Additional quotes about sustainability and commercial real estate can be found in this conversation with Matthew Clifford.

About Cushman & Wakefield 

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global commercial real estate services firm for property owners and occupiers with approximately 52,000 employees in approximately 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2022, the firm reported revenue of $10.1 billion across its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services. It also receives numerous industry and business accolades for its award-winning culture and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and more. For additional information, visit

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