A word from our Chair – “Where there’s muck...”

Written by Kevin McCullough
22 Mar 2024
Real Estate Decarbonisation

From the Industrial Revolution, to modern day awareness of our planet and its ecosystems, there is one word common throughout. Carbon.

Nowadays, outlawed as a dirty word, it’s time to think less about the cost we face in getting ourselves off carbon, and more about the value we can unlock as we do so.

“Where there’s muck, there’s brass!”

Recall that phrase? Perhaps more familiar to those of us of a certain age or geography, so let me try and make it more relevant…

“Where there’s Carbon, there’s value”

And a lot of it.

Unlocking value in your carbon reduction journey

At BFY Carbon Strategies, we’re working with real estate and energy clients to meaningfully reduce their carbon intensity. The global journey to Net Zero is of course challenging and to many, the skill set is not always something carried within the core business of a client.

Let’s examine our built environment to illustrate the scale.

Our built environment is hugely diverse and includes our office spaces, schools, universities, hospitals, supermarkets, warehouses, factories, and of course our houses, and so on. It’s a long, hugely diverse list, and together it accounts for around 40% of our emissions.

Much of our commercial real estate is now facing into a world where its use has changed, especially post COVID, while at the same time there’s increasing pressure to ensure that such assets remain investable, and don’t become stranded.

Placing such real estate portfolios on a solid path to net zero is no longer optional, but essential. There isn’t an asset manager or investment manager I’ve come across that doesn’t understand this. By contrast however, there are plenty that struggle to get their asset base past the very low hurdle of CRREM data gathering, and for those who do, they’re often left with the nagging question of - what do I do now?

That’s truly where BFY Carbon Strategies can help. This is core to what we do. We unlock value in your carbon reduction journey.

Outweighing the costs of reducing energy consumption

For us it’s all about making your data work for you and your portfolio. Often, we find that the first step is really understanding your building data, and the building as a dynamic entity. A true “living” space, where you can think of the HVAC, lighting, chillers, ICT etc as the organs of the building. What you don’t want is one fighting the other, or not being effective at what it was either designed to do originally, or needs to do now.

Imagine a typical multi-use office block, where its occupational design was most likely assumed to be for our pre-COVID static occupancy world, with its HVAC, airflows and mechanical services now at odds with its actual usage and environment. Equivalent examples exist for just about every class of real estate. Energy savings alone can often range between 20-30%.

Pause and think of that for a moment.

If you have large portfolios, where reducing energy consumption by that magnitude not just gets you on a path of active carbon reduction, but instantly increases your net operating income. Let’s imagine a typical ownership hold cycle of 5-10 years say. An energy reduction of that magnitude will provide a pretty substantial increase to Net Asset Value, and move the dial significantly above that stranded asset curve, making your portfolio more valuable.

What many fail to realise initially however, is that with real estate in particular, the NPV of meaningfully reducing energy consumption, often far outweighs the cost of getting you there. Optimising energy use may well require modest outlay to adapt or fix a building, and this is likely to be via a planned integration, which we can help you manage.

The practical path to Net Zero

Before agreeing to become Chair, I wanted to understand what made BFY Carbon Strategies different. I’ve sat on many boards and seen hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches by people and organisations trying to sell me the stuff of dreams. Quite simply, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in our potential.

I believe in the model and approach we have.


Because at its heart, it’s about doing practical things that make sense. It’s about partnering with you to help improve your efficiency, and lowering your carbon intensity meaningfully. It’s about being your partner on your journey to unlocking the value in reducing your carbon footprint.

A typical engagement on an asset-by-asset basis would take around 12 weeks, including mobilisation, data acquisition and analysis, site diagnostic, model build, and project register.

It’s real stuff. Not fluff.

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Kevin McCullough

Kevin leads the Carbon Strategies Board and guides our Net Zero ambitions.

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