Sustainability is a hot topic on the agenda in the Real Estate industry. You could measure sustainability from an environmental, financial or social aspect. While it is straightforward how to aim for and measure impact on the environment and different financial KPIs, it might be a bit trickier to set goals and follow up on social sustainability.
In our last Hello World-session, we talked to Martin Grander, Assistant Professor at Malmö University and an expert in social sustainability in terms of housing. His answers gave me some valuable insights that would be valuable to many Real Estate companies we talk with.
Social sustainability is important in many aspects, because if a residential area is stable, then the tenants feel safe and stay in the area. A stable area means that people care about their surroundings, and this leads to a ripple effect of more stability.
The challenge within social sustainability is mostly linked to segregation, according to Martin Grander. Because of this, Real Estate companies need to work with living conditions and geographical differences. Another challenge is that a lot of factors co-operate in the aspects of social sustainability, which means you cannot only follow one, but a mix of factors. Martin also states that to make a difference, it is best to collaborate with others. According to him, the most successful projects, are the ones where a housing company collaborates with municipal actors.
When investing in social sustainability, it is important to measure the impact. It requires you to be data-driven. The best solution is to combine a lot of data and create indexes to measure the development over time. It is important to measure the personal development of the citizens, as well as the development of trust towards society and the housing companies, according to Martin Grander. He states that some of the most important things to measure are employment, income, and education levels within the area. It is also important to measure residential mobility; to and from which areas people are moving. Most importantly is to be persistent since change tends to take time.
To me, it is quite clear that the work with social sustainability needs to be addressed with a clear strategy, clear goals and a focus on following up on the right KPIs over time. To be successful you will need to be data-driven and create indexes where you use external as well as internal data to measure development. It is not easy, but so important. Your future you will thank you!
Martin Grander is an Assistant Professor at Malmö University in the field of social sustainability and the director of the research environment Studies in Housing and Welfare. Martin states that the biggest issue with social sustainability is segregation. Employment is a success factor and the best results come when Real Estate companies collaborate with others in public initiatives. Another success factor is to be persistent and work with a long-term perspective since changes take time.
Pernilla Klein is a Business Consultant and Industry Lead within Real Estate, at Stratiteq. Pernilla facilitates workshops to fulfil the needs of the clients’ data-driven solutions. She is passionate about combining strategy with a technical solution when working with goals and KPIs to monitor social sustainability. Extracurricular; she loves taking ice cold baths regularly during wintertime and is often seen attending live concerts with some obscure post-punk band (that no one has heard of).