Real estate sector is the largest contributors to global warming

‘The real estate industry is always in a state of flux, but it has been especially so during the pandemic’ says Chris Collins, Country President for Schneider Electric Ireland

23rd November, 2021
Real estate sector is the largest contributors to global warming

Chris Collins, Country President for Schneider Electric Ireland

What are your day to day responsibilities?

At Schneider Electric, my role is to direct growth and strategy for the business in Ireland, while supporting our Irish customers with their sustainability transformations.

What is your professional background?

My career began in a variety of engineering and operations roles with field services teams. I then joined Schneider Electric as a Business Development Manager in 2003, where I was responsible for building automation and security products in the Northeast region of the US. Since then, I’ve grown my career over almost nineteen years at the multinational energy management brand and held senior board-level positions covering both the commercial and residential sectors in the US. Before starting my current role as the Country President for Schneider Electric, Ireland I was the Vice President Systems Transformation for the Digital Energy division.

We could see significant changes in the design and construction of buildings post-pandemic. What do you anticipate will be priorities for owners and tenants?

As we transition from the Covid era, we are confronted by the challenge of climate change. The climate crisis isn’t something new, but with the attention brought on from COP26, and recent reports such as the IPCC report, the priorities for owners and tenants post-pandemic will be largely focussed on sustainability. Thankfully that is where the role of smart technology in buildings comes in, and this is something that I will be championing as Country President for Schneider Electric Ireland.

We’ve already seen a huge shift in consumer demand for the prioritisation of both ‘healthy’ and flexible spaces – and it will be these that are most attractive to tenants. Healthy working spaces with sufficient ventilation and overall comfort are proven to boost productivity and mental well-being. At the same time, flexible spaces that allow a building to adapt to varied occupancy levels and usage requirements will be just as important. Why waste energy to heat, cool, or light spaces that are not occupied? As we transition to this hybrid-work model, it is important that owners and tenants keep this in mind in both the construction and design phases.

Has the volatility sparked by the pandemic led to an acceleration of already existing real estate trends?

The real estate industry is always in a state of flux, but it has been especially so during the pandemic. Remote working has enabled more people to live outside of Dublin in more rural areas, and naturally this will mean house prices in these areas will rise. The work-from-home revolution will certainly persuade people to move away from urban centres and real estate in these locations will continue to be more sought after.

What are the ramifications of climate change on the real estate sector in the short, medium and long-term?

The real estate sector is one of the largest contributors to global warming, responsible for 40% of all global carbon emissions. It’s true, extreme weather conditions will only continue to worsen with rising global temperatures, presenting a significant risk to real estate in the medium to long-term. That’s not just the physical risks caused by extreme weather but also along the whole supply chain as we transition to a low-carbon economy. The good news is, investors are now starting to take climate change into account, putting sustainability measures in place - but there’s still a long way to go.

Chris Collins is speaking at The Business Post’s 2021 National Property Summit which is a virtual event on Dec 1. Visit www.propertysummit.ie for full details and to book.

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