Ethical and responsible businesses become more sustainable

Maarten Vermeulen FRICS

Managing Director for Europe, Russia & CIS (RICS)

For many years, countries in Europe have played a critical role in paving the way towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the global climate policy agenda. As part of this process, along with our members, we've been working with policymakers at the European Union (EU) to formulate its Sustainable Building Policy.


We have been supporting its implementation by equipping our professionals working in all stages of the property life-cycle by ensuring that they have the right tools, training and the relevant competencies to improve sustainable performance within the built environment.

Reducing the environmental footprint

As the EU moves towards zero energy buildings, lifecycle carbon accounting and building energy management are becoming more important and require robust and common metrics, as well as clear responsibilities and skilled professionals. From our point of view, looking beyond energy efficiency and considering embodied carbon is equally important. Therefore, energy used in construction and final disposal takes on a new significance.

As a result we are supporting the wider scope of the EU initiative on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the building sector, which aims to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings and its related operations, including resources such as materials, water embodied energy and waste.

What's the aim?

This initiative aims to begin a process of identifying a number of core indicators that have an impact on the sustainability performance and market value of buildings. The long term goal is to strengthen sustainability practices by introducing mandatory accounting, reporting and benchmarking by using common EU standards. This will no doubt impact on us as RICS professionals as we execute our duties day-to-day. 

We are also of the view that investment in low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure requires exactly what we can offer: International Standards and skilled professionals.

An example of this is our participation in the EU funded RenoValue project. Through RenoValue, we offer training to property valuation professionals on how to factor energy efficiency and renewable energy issues into their valuation practices. In the process, they also begin to understand the impact of building performance and property values, and can therefore advise their clients accordingly.

Conference of the Parties

But we want to do more and this is why we are joining the many governments, business and civil society groups from across the world at the Conference of the Parties or COP21, which is hosted by the United Nations (UN). This is a crucial climate change conference and gives us the opportunity to share the insights we have gained from our work in this field and also learn from others on what they are doing in their sectors.

Across Europe, we have been running awareness campaigns on the fundamental role of ethics and ethical behavior in the future of the property sector. The workshops are called “The Ethical Property Enterprise” and aims to encourage firms to apply the RICS five core ethical principles. We’re also encouraging the use of the resource created jointly by RICS and the UN Global Compact in how to do business more responsibly.

In supporting these activities, we are sending clear message: “That being ethical and responsible is crucial to helping any business become more sustainable”.

Comments (0)

Only Registered Members and Registered site users can comment on our content.

Please use the log in button to sign in and leave your comment.

Read the next page in this section

Responsible business

Where will your business be in 10, 20 or even 50 years? Read our 15 actions to advance your responsible business

Read more

International standards

  • Construction standards>

  • Ethical standards>

  • Measurement standards>


Tailored training material for practising valuation professionals

Read more

Climatic Risk Toolkit

Practical tools to anticipate the risks that climate change poses

Download now