Everything surveyors do is led by standards. To the general public, it’s those standards that make it safe for them to employ professionals to deliver expertise and best advice in relation to property - whether that’s in the form of surveys using industry or custom-built templates, or through the provision of valuations to RICS Red Book standards. That’s why it’s important for surveyors to know what ‘standards’ really means for the future.
With COP26 in full swing, the world is looking not just for commitments, but for real actions to halt and reverse climate change. We have already seen announcements relating to:
Schemes to cut methane
Reduction in coal use
With the built environment responsible for 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and 23% of those emissions coming from buildings, surveyors including those delivering valuations need to ensure that they carry out their work with the context of climate in mind. They must do this knowing what it means for the world and their own micro-market and average market participant. To do this, it's imperative that surveyors understand the following:
The risks are changing
The risks are accumulating
The risks are now
1.9 million people across all areas of the UK are at risk of flooding, which is projected to increase. Along with issues such as overheating, changes to energy use patterns, and concerns over long-term access to natural resources like water, the potential repercussions on the 'home' and its occupants could be vast. Image 2
As probably the most tangible metric, the surveying sector can find and manage solutions to reducing property emissions via for example retrofit, life-cycle-assessments, Future Homes Standards etc. Yet, we must not forget that a truly sustainable and regenerative built environment will not just be determined by improving the fabric of our properties and utilising different materials; it will also be determined by finding the solutions to deliver more and use less. For example by:
moving away from car-centricity
delivering on nature-based-solutions
seeking affordable homes (truly affordable vs. superficial temporary market incentives)
reducing (and eliminating) vacant properties
improving green spaces and access to it for all
In order to do this, surveyors can:
increase knowledge through CPD
lean on their relevant membership bodies to increase the requirement of knowledge around sustainability for both new and existing members
adjust their own processes and practices (professionally and personally)
deliver advice that aligns more appropriately to growing risks
So, what do standards mean for the future of surveying?
To ensure surveyors meet industry standards, this requires delivering best advice (and vice versa). This means that all surveyors need to be able to consider and assess sustainability attributes, features and factors that include environmental, economic and social aspects.
Therefore, when it comes to standards and the future of surveying, standards and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the standards we set must have sustainability, regenerative and circular economy considerations at their heart.