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Why Are Global Real Estate Leaders Turning to Sustainable Investments to Reach Net-Zero? With Taylor Wescoatt and Guy Grainger

12.9.22

In the second episode of Season 10 of the Propcast, host Louisa Dickins is joined by Taylor Wescoatt, General Partner at Concrete VC and Guy Grainger, Global Head of Sustainability Services and ESG at JLL

They discuss why global real estate leaders are refocusing their investment strategy and turning to venture capital to help reach net zero. Taylor Wescoatt shares Concrete VC’s big plans with the sustainable fund and how they managed to get some huge real estate names to invest. Guy talks about JLL’s strategy around net zero and their involvement in the fund. Taylor and Guy share with Louisa how technology, both internally and externally, will help businesses reach their sustainability goals.

Resources:

Companies Mentioned:

Shout Outs:

Key Insights From This Episode:  

  • We’re out recruiting and looking at how we can grow our capabilities in multiple countries to give clients the silver bullet of seamless integration of strategies across multiple geographies, which is really hard to do. – Guy
  • There is a direct link between transitioning a building to net-zero, and creating economic value and we need to prove that much more clearly. – Guy
  • We’ve created an investment platform that helps large real estate organisations see more clearly into the early stage tech space so they understand what will be creating and driving change in their industry. – Taylor 
  • As we see more consistent data coming out of the sector, new artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities will evolve. – Taylor
  • According to a JLL report, the value of green certifications on buildings results in a rent premium of 6% and a sales premium of 8%  – Louisa
  • If we wait for the government to set the regulation it will be too late. – Guy

About Our Guests:

Taylor Wescoatt:

Taylor’s career in technology product management spans 20 years of startups and larger pioneers like eBay and AOL. He started Concrete in 2016 with Starwood and JLL as founding partners out of a recognition that the coming wave of change in Real Estate would be primarily driven by technology. Concrete’s mission remains to help leading players in the Real Estate sector see better into the future by engaging with the most compelling and visionary founders in the technology sector to drive revenue, operational efficiency, and net-zero environmental goals.

Guy Grainger:

Guy Grainger is Global Head of Sustainability Services and ESG at NYSE-listed real estate services company JLL. He has overall responsibility for sustainability services, products and strategy, and for JLL’s corporate sustainability program.

Previously, Guy led the EMEA region since June 2016, also serving as a member of JLL’s Global Executive Board. Prior to that, he was CEO of the UK business between 2013 and 2016, having originally joined as a senior leader of the Churston Heard business acquired by JLL in 2008.

Outside of JLL, Guy is Chair of the Circular Economy Taskforce at responsible business organisation Business in the Community and Vice President at the British Property Federation.

An alumnus of the London Business School Senior Executive Programme, he is also an established media commentator on sustainability, the built and natural environment, and amateur triathlete in his spare time.

About Concrete Ventures:

Concrete Ventures is a venture capital investor working closely with leading global real estate partners to understand their key challenges and identify and invest in the technology startup founders delivering real impact.

About JLL:

We’re here to create rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces around the globe where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we are building a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities.

We’re a world leader in real estate services, powered by an entrepreneurial spirit. We want the most ambitious clients to work with us, and the most ambitious people to work for us. It’s as simple as that.

We buy, build, occupy and invest in a variety of assets including industrial, commercial, retail, residential and hotel real estate. From tech startups to global firms, our clients span industries including banking, energy, healthcare, law, life sciences, manufacturing and technology.

About Our Host

Louisa Dickins

Louisa is the co-founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market leading global PropTech recruitment platform and search consultancy with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation.

About LMRE

LMRE is globally recognised for leading the way in Real Estate Tech & Innovation talent management.

From the outset our vision was to become a global provider of the very best strategic talent to the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting.

At LMRE we are fully committed at all times to exceed the expectations of our candidates and clients by providing the very best advice and by unlocking exclusive opportunities across our global network in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.

Timestamps:

[1:16] Guy: Can you talk us through how you ended up as Global Head of Sustainability and ESG Services?

  • I went from being a CEO to dedicating myself to sustainability, as I was looking for a purpose driven career path.
  • We had a big strategy around sustainability but didn’t have a focused investment plan or leadership, so I agreed to take this on and drive our growth strategy around sustainability services internationally.

[2:57] Taylor: Can you expand on the fund recently launched by Concrete VC and tell us how you found your partner Arnaud and what it is you do?

  • We’ve created an investment platform that helps large real estate organisations see more deeply and clearly into the early stage tech space that will be creating and driving change in their industry.
  • We met through an investment that his fund and Concrete VC had done into Measurabl, a sustainability focused business.
  • At Concrete VC we find where a business achieves its goals in meeting with the users needs and what the technology can provide.

[4:39] Guy: What is JLL’s involvement in Concrete’s fund?

  • We have worked with Concrete VC for many years and know Taylor has some great insight and experience, therefore, we believe this new fund is going to really reap rewards.
  • This is part of our ongoing investment through JLL Spark, over the last 5 years we have invested over $300 million in tech companies.
  • We’re trying to digitise our business and effectively plug smaller companies into our platform. We need others to partner with us to help scale up the best innovation and we think this fund will help us do that.

[6:47] Taylor: What sort of investments are you going to be looking at and is there any particular strategy for them?

  • We’re excited about ESG, data and overall efficiency. We think that they will create significant change within the real estate sector and start to build the ecosystems that businesses will thrive in. 
  • At this point we are looking for early stage companies, we’re eager to help founders that are at the point where they’re ready to start talking to the nature of partners that we have. 

[8:04] Taylor: Will you be looking for more partners within the fund?

  • We’re definitely looking for more partners, we’re eager to have conversations with people that are interested in learning about the space and delivering some impact in this ever changing world of real estate.

[9:14] Guy: Could you elaborate on the services and solutions that you offer your clients at JLL?

  • Ultimately we’re trying to get an end to end solution, from setting the strategy right through to the execution and implementation of the pathway to zero carbon in buildings.
  • We’re looking to work with clients that are willing to go beyond the reporting and disclosure phase and into the execution phase. 
  • We’re trying to link having the consultants set the strategies to then having the engineers and project managers transition these assets and link to the operations of the building.

 [12:40] Guy: What are your thoughts on the government’s recent strategy on climate change?

  • If we wait for the government to set the regulation it will be too late. Businesses are responding to this and realising that to protect and manage the risk of climate change with their business model they need to get ahead of the regulation.
  • Looking at city regulation is far more interesting and moving far quicker than government regulation, we are seeing some really drastic measures taken by cities that are really restricting the amount of new buildings and focusing on the operational energy of buildings.

[15:15]  Taylor: Why is there hesitancy from the clients to use the technology?

  • Real estate doesn’t have a tremendous margin so to add a new cost into a building, it can be pretty meaningful when you’re trying to sell that building later on so they want to see examples of it really making an impact. 

[17:21] Guy: What needs to be done in this industry to move it forward quicker?

  • We need to play to people’s curiosity and give them a reason to engage with upskilling on this subject. It’s up to all of us to deal with this challenge, not just the sustainability experts.

[22:05] The ‘LMRE’ part, Louisa asks the guests to talk about; 

L– Touch on the main lessons you have learnt throughout your career.

Taylor: I’ve really started to appreciate the nature of the building of relationships in the real estate sector.

M – Please give a mention to anyone / product / service.

Guy: Your network is really important, and meeting more diverse people or adjacent industries that are going to give you more pioneering or creative thoughts.

R – What has been the most  rewarding  aspect of working in PropTech?

Taylor: I have never seen a longer, more sustained uphill climb in learning that I know that I am facing than in the real estate sector. There is constantly so much to learn in this space and I love that.

E – What are you excited about in the future of the sustainability world of real estate?

Guy: I am really excited about batteries, I think they’re going to save the world. Electric vehicles are going to disappear pretty fast because of the innovation around batteries. Once we can create them without rare resources like lithium, it will change the world.

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