JLL sustainability report e1655112709858

JLL mulls ESG benchmarks amid absence of standards

The real estate adviser will not let the “pursuit of perfection” delay progress on its impact on the world, the company has said.

“In the absence of a consistent market approach to impact assessment, we are evaluating methodologies to measure, optimise and communicate our impact,” the real estate adviser said in its latest sustainability report.

Reinforcing the amount of work real estate – and the wider corporate world – need to do around tracking progress on ESG, JLL said it is testing benchmarks for the social and ecological impacts of its business.

The adviser, among the largest in the world, will undertake consultations with experts to identify best practices.

For example, JLL’s global sustainability team is working with Harvard Business School’s Impacted-Weighted Accounts Initiative to measure the impact of its employment in the US.

“In piecing these efforts together, we are testing an approach for impact assessment while maintaining the intention of aligning with more accepted methodologies as greater consensus emerges,” the report said.

In the meantime, it has promised a “dynamic, refined and iterated” approach to assessing impact.

JLL said: “Understanding and measuring our impact is an inherently complex undertaking given the absence of established norms. However, we will not allow the pursuit of perfection to impede our progress.”

How to measure impact

JLL has three broad areas it plans to measure, with a number of specific topics in each:

  • Climate action: greenhouse gas emissions
  • Healthy spaces: occupational health and safety; wellbeing; training
  • Inclusive places: diversity, equity and inclusion; community engagement

These areas could, however, change as its research into emerging methodologies continues, JLL said.

Progress on climate goals

On top of aiming for net-zero carbon by 2040, JLL has committed to reducing its absolute emissions by 51% by 2030 and 95% by 2040 from a 2018 base year. Those targets were certified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative in October 2021.

The sustainability report breaks down progress on emissions in some detail, with charts showing performance against targets in seven different areas.

JLL Emissions Progress

So far, progress has been mixed (scroll down for a full breakdown):

  • Total emissions: +15%
  • Scope 1 (fleet, natural gas, office fuels): -9%
  • Scope 2 (market-based) (purchased electricity and heating): -35%
  • Scope 3 (indirect emissions, including client emissions, business travel and purchased goods and services): +15%

Mirroring CBRE’s carbon challenges, JLL has managed to cut emissions it has more control over, while Scope 3 (which account for nearly all of its tracked emissions) moved in the wrong direction.

One reason is that energy use among clients has increased recently.

But these are only the clients for whom JLL has “actual data”. The adviser echoed CBRE’s uncertainty over clients’ emissions in its report, saying: “The methodology we use to calculate [client] emissions uses revenue as a basis for estimation. We are, therefore, currently unable to show the benefit of our clients’ use of renewable energy.”

“We anticipate being able to demonstrate reductions as we refine our calculation methodology over the coming year.”

JLL Carbon Footprint

The report acknowledged that client emissions are “fundamental to delivering net zero”. JLL said that it works with clients to set strategies, drive energy efficiency in their buildings and increase the uptake of renewable energy.

“Significant investments” in tech and an increase in sustainability services will support that work, the company said.

Missed target

JLL has a number of other climate-related goals outside of reducing emissions. These include recycling targets and sustainability certifications for its offices.

All of these are on track with one exception: piloting zero-waste fit-outs in every region by the end of 2021.

JLL said “uncertainty caused by the pandemic continued to alter fit-out decisions” caused it to miss its target.

However, the company has since started working with a UN accelerator programme on industry waste reduction with plans to roll out what it has learned in both internal and external waste reduction projects.

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