Buildings in the UK

The task of collecting data adds to Property Managers’ increasingly complex role

Property Managers of today face a new burden as decision makers try to solve the climate crisis.

Over 3,5 million buildings in the UK are currently under some description of property management. The vast majority of these need to disclose their energy use, whether it’s for mandatory sustainability reporting or to attract investors. It’s a step in the right direction to fight climate change, but it isn’t an easy task for the people closest to the buildings.

New legislations drives changes in priorities

There’s been a paradigm shift in the real estate industry (and all other industries) that has turned the light towards sustainability. Environmentally focused laws and legislations, increased consumer awareness and a change in investor preferences has forced everyone involved in properties to start prioritising environmental issues.

From 1 April 2019, listed companies must report on their global energy use and large businesses must disclose their UK annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions as required by the Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations 2018. And as new regulations enter into force, the same demands start coming from stakeholders and customers as well.

These legislations are important, and they will contribute to shaping a sustainable future. But when decision makers on the top set high goals, we often forget that this will result in an increased workload for someone else (hey Property Managers, we’re talking to you).

The new burden on Property Managers

Ten years ago, your responsibilities might have included supervising and coordinating building maintenance, light handyman work, resolving tenant concerns and complaints, showing and leasing vacant units, collecting and depositing rent and updating the Property Owner on the status of the property. This is probably still the case – with the added responsibility of collecting an insane amount of data on the properties you manage.

You are the owner’s eyes and ears on the property, so of course this task will fall on you. But that doesn’t mean that you’ve got time for it. Because of the constant demands on Property Managers in the UK, more and more people are quitting their jobs – leaving the ones left with an even higher workload than before.

Quite often, there is no process or structured way of getting the data, and no simplified way of taking data up the chain. Instead, the process is often manual. It’s enough of a struggle when you have 2 or 3 buildings to manage, so how do you even begin to contemplate the task when you have 1000 buildings under your supervision? There’s just not enough time to do this manually.


The former Housing Minister of the UK gives his view

The owners’ quest for data won’t end. In fact, everything points towards demands getting even higher. We spoke to Mr. Mark Prisk, former Business and Housing Minister and MP of the UK, to get his view on the issues at hand.

How do you feel that investors’ interests have changed towards sustainability in the real estate space over the last few years?

“I think there’s been an immense change in how investors select developments and other real estate opportunities. The entire ESG and sustainability movement is right at the top of their agenda. I suspect that if your buildings are not meeting high standards you’ll struggle to get any investment within the next few years.”

Sustainability benchmarks are something all real estate owners are currently seeking, how do you think this has affected the Property Managers’ role?

“Benchmarks are really important in any industry, in anyone’s working life, both for their own purpose and so that today’s Property Manager can compare different sites and management approaches. As benchmarks are becoming increasingly more important, with a forced focus on energy consumption, this means that it’s crucial that portfolio’s become more efficient, fast. A Property Manager really needs to be able to show exactly what they are achieving and the improvements they are making.”

If you could offer a Property Manager, with their ever increasingly complex role, some advice, what would it be?

“There are several areas in real estate that have big issues; repurposing and retrofitting current assets, and then you have the whole issue of increased population and environmental issues to consider as well – there’s a whole mass of policies and issues with commercial and residential properties alike. It’s extremely complex. The approach to sustainable buildings is going to be increasingly more important, so it’s better to get ahead of the game, than trying to catch up.”

Your work will be judged on the data you collect

“It’s better to get ahead of the game, than trying to catch up”. Mark Prisk said it well, and Property Managers should take this to heart. Because as the industry becomes more data-driven, your ability to gather and guarantee the quality of that data will be used to evaluate your work efforts.

You need to be able to present actual correct information, and you need to have faith in those numbers. You want to protect your credibility, because when sustainability auditors start to drill down into your numbers, how confident are you that they are correct?

Your career is based on what you deliver. You can either lead the change and be the kid who hands in their homework early, or you can be the kid who hands in an inadequate report after the deadline. Ensuring that the information you’re presenting is as accurate as possible (and with the avoidance of estimations where possible) is going to be what separates the wheat from the chaff.

But we still have the issue of time to deal with.

You’re not a computer

We respect what you’re going through; collecting building data is a full time task. And even if you know why this is important, and even if you want to do your best to get the numbers to your managers, you don’t have the time in a day to do so because you are not a computer – but we are!

We won’t pretend that Metry is going to solve all the problems of the modern PM. But we do have a tool to make the task of data collection easier, and we can take that task off of you. With automated processes for collecting energy data, you can rest assured that you’re getting high quality data to deliver to your managers – without having to spend all your working hours trying to collect it.

Let’s ease your burden! Our data collection experts are happy to answer any questions you may have.

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