Sustainable apartment block

Investa's race to net zero emissions


Introduction What is a science-based net zero emissions target? What does Investa’s science-based net zero emissions target look like? How will Investa achieve net zero emissions? How is Investa working with tenant customers?  


In the race to net zero emissions, Investa took an early lead as the first Australian property company to commit to a science-based target in 2015. Nina James, General Manager for Corporate Sustainability and Responsible Investment, shares Investa’s progress and explains why Investa customers should care. When Australia signed on to the Paris Agreement, we agreed to play our part to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, we must halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve a climate neutral world – or net zero emissions – by 2050. Around 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our buildings. Businesses play a central role in driving down greenhouse gas emissions in their commercial offices, but a resilient, zero-emissions future must be underpinned by robust science. “When Investa committed to a science-based target in 2016, we charted a course to net zero emissions by 2040. To do this, we have set a bona fide carbon reduction target that is verified against the climate change science and the Paris Agreement,” James explains.  

What is a science-based net zero emissions target?

Any company can set a carbon reduction target. But how do we know that the target is ambitious enough to achieve net zero emissions? Science-based targets help companies to understand how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change. “Investa has always had a strong commitment to third-party verification,” James says. “We have certified our portfolio of assets under the NABERS and Green Star rating systems. We report to GRESB, the global benchmark for sustainable real estate, each year. And we have been a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment since 2007. When we set our carbon target the same expectation applied.” Investa established its target through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a global organisation that sets the ‘gold standard’ for corporate emissions reduction. More than 1,200 companies have committed to cut their carbon footprints and 593, including Investa, have had their targets approved by SBTi. SBTi’s 2020 progress report shows science-based targets work. The typical company with science-based targets has reduced its direct emissions (Scope 1 and 2) at a rate of 6.4% per year. This exceeds the 4.2% rate needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. Investa has reduced emissions by a massive 63.3% since 2004.  
Investa’s science-based target was pivotal for the property industry. By working through the complexity raised by science-based targets, Investa showed everyone that it could be done. Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia

What does Investa’s science-based net zero emissions target look like?

Davina Rooney, Chief Executive Officer of the Green Building Council of Australia, says Investa’s net zero goal was a “game-changer” for the nation’s buildings. “Investa’s science-based target was pivotal for the property industry. By working through the complexity raised by science-based targets, Investa showed everyone that it could be done, and gave other property companies the confidence to pursue their own ambitious sustainability goals,” Rooney explains. Australia’s property industry can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 using technologies that exist today, Rooney adds. “The Low Carbon, High Performance report finds eliminating emissions from our buildings would also deliver $20 billion in financial savings by 2030, and improve the productivity and quality of life of Australian businesses and households.” Investa has committed to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 60% per square metre of net lettable area by 2030 and 100% by 2040 from a 2015 baseline. We have also committed to reduce Scope 3 greenhouse emissions by 26% per net lettable area by 2030 and 42% by 2040 from a 2015 baseline. Importantly, this target includes Scope 3 emissions – the emissions that are generated by our tenant customers. “Reducing our tenant customers’ emissions is embedded in our commitment, and that sets us apart,” James says. “It says we are accountable for more than what’s in our own backyard. We might not control Scope 3 emissions, but we want to walk alongside our tenant customers, arm in arm, to help them reduce their footprint.” James says Investa is “thrilled” to see nearly every large Australian property company set competitive targets since 2015. “They’ve used our target as a bookend – and that makes our team proud.”  
Let's break down Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions
Scope 1 emissions – or direct emissions – are from sources that a company owns or controls, like emissions produced during manufacturing, or from business travel in a company car, Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the purchase of electricity, steam, heating and cooling for the company’s own use. Scope 3 emissions cover emissions outside a company's boundary – like the emissions from employees’ commute, purchased good and services, or leased assets, like office buildings.  

How will Investa achieve net zero emissions?

‘Net zero emissions’ means achieving overall balance between the emissions produced and those extracted from the atmosphere. Buildings can still produce some emissions, provided they are offset by activities that reduce those emissions, like planting forests. Electricity and gas consumed in Investa’s buildings account for 99.6% of our greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve net zero emissions, we are addressing three areas: 1. Operations. By working alongside tenant customers to uncover new ways to enhance the energy performance of buildings we are making workplaces more productive, healthy and comfortable. 2. Design and construction. Changing the building envelope – considering solar glare and heat, orientation and thermal mass, the design of windows and services, for example – can realise big energy and carbon emissions savings for our customers. 3. Power. Sourcing zero-carbon energy, such as from solar or wind farms, addresses our residual power requirements and helps our customers to meet their net zero targets too.  

How is Investa working with tenant customers?

Investa’s partnership with customers is at the heart of its strategy to cut carbon emissions. “We don’t think it’s enough for us to address our base buildings. We want to share our ideas and intellectual property with our customers to drive a shift across Australia,” James explains. In partnership with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Investa has created a free Sustainability Tenant Toolkit to help companies around Australia create low carbon, healthy workplaces. “We have gathered all the information and ideas from 15 years of operating sustainable commercial offices. We aim to empower our 750 tenant organisations to improve the performance of their own tenancies,” James explains. The Toolkit attracted nearly 37,000 unique visits in 2020 alone. From analysing the data, Investa knows that people want to understand how buildings influence health, wellbeing and productivity, and how they can actively improve the environmental sustainability of their office space. Davina Rooney says the Toolkit is a “genuinely impressive piece of work to guide tenants on creating sustainable workplaces”. “By tackling environmental sustainability from lots of different angles – from design and construction to how people use their office space – Investa has set the industry benchmark.” James says the feedback Investa receives from tenant customers is “really exciting”. “Tenants are making great savings in electricity by implementing the tips in our Toolkit. They tell us the Toolkit helps their people understand what wellness in the office looks like, and how engaged employees translate to bottom line benefits,” James says. “Through the Toolkit, we’ve had direct conversations with 100,000 of our customers. But what makes us really proud is the fact that anyone can access the Toolkit. Sharing our knowledge is how we’ll move Australia towards net zero emissions. The challenge of climate action is large, but so is Investa’s net zero ambition. This is why a staged approach is important, James explains. “First, set the target, then gather and analyse the data, then enrol our tenants. That’s what we are doing – walking arm-in-arm with our tenants as an advisor. We are working with our customers to cut their carbon emissions and, at the same time, create more efficient, sustainable workplaces. We’re showing that it can be done.”  
“We don’t think it’s enough for us to address our base buildings. We want to share our ideas and intellectual property with our customers to drive a shift across Australia.” Nina James, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, Investa
  Source Investa