Looking to have big social impact?

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Companies are taking a closer look at their social impacts. We outline five things you need to consider before attempting to figure out the impact of your buildings.

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Looking to have big social impact?
Looking to have big social impact? For years the industry has been focused on cleaning up its poor image and avoiding highly publicised negative impacts like carbon, waste and so on. The upshot of this is that the far-reaching positive social impacts of our work from job creation to regeneration, have been largely overshadowed. Now smart companies are catching on to the long-term economic gain of creating socially-useful developments that add to local economies and help transform areas around them.

Five questions to ask yourself.
At JLL we are at the cutting-edge of this emerging area – we’ve measured the social and economic impacts of over 1,000 assets for clients. We’ve learned an awful lot along the way and have come up with five quick questions you should ask yourself before attempting to measure the social benefit of your real estate.

1. What have you already got to play with?
You probably already know more than you think about the different social impacts and benefits your buildings have. For example your planning applications may talk about the jobs you’ll create or how you’ll provide additional green space for local residents. And your customers are already telling you what’s important to them on social media, through customer satisfaction surveys, and maybe even through their behaviour.

2. Are we talking one building or your whole portfolio?
Maybe you need to measure the impact of a particular building, say for a planning application, or to share some facts with the local community. Most clients start simply, with just one or two assets and build up from there. But others want to understand the impact their business has as a whole, on things like local spending and employment. M&G Real Estate took this approach, and found its property portfolio supports over 300,000 jobs through its occupiers alone.

3. What benefits do you want to capture?
You should measure what’s important for your own business and the things that matter most to your stakeholders, local residents, businesses and so on. There’s a wealth of secondary data on the areas around your assets to help you work out the difference you can make. You can also do some primary research and talk to local people. Derwent London asked tenants of the Buckley Building how much money they spend in the local area – it is over £1 million.

4. How long have you got?
It’s not just the buildings that are up and running today that will have an impact. You might want to look at the impact generated from a current development – such as construction jobs, or even predict how a development you are planning will affect an area.

5. How can you make a difference?
So now you know your impact, so what? This is where you need to provide solutions to the social challenges around your buildings. Worried you can’t make a difference? With retail jobs set to decline and issues like homelessness on the rise, the opportunities are enormous: L&G discovered that it could be capturing an additional £15-20bn of social benefit from its buildings.

Article written by Charlotte Hopkinson in JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services team.

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