Reflections on UKREiiF 2023, Leeds

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The United Kingdom Real Estate and Infrastructure Investment Forum (UKREiiF) returned for its second year, gathering industry colleagues, policymakers, and experts to explore the pressing issues and envision the future of the UK’s real estate and infrastructure sectors. Artelia UK was delighted to be part of the thought-provoking discussions and we thought we’d share some of our key takeaways from the event:

  • It was gloriously sunny in Leeds, further contributing to a great conference atmosphere and a really well organised set-up!
  • Sustainability was naturally a reoccurring conference theme, with the forum highlighting key topics including green financing, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) deadlines, financially unviable Stranded Assets as we transition to a low-carbon economy, solutions in the heritage sector and biophilic design.
  • The proposed introduction of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for buildings presents a significant industry challenge, as there are such a vast number of properties that currently do not meet these proposed standards and require substantial upgrades. Meeting MEES requirements will require innovative retrofit solutions and collaborative efforts across numerous stakeholders: Government, industry associations, technology providers, and financial institutions.
  • Also centre stage was great innovative thinking around the use of proptech, connectivity and Smart buildings empowered by advanced technologies and leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize asset performance.
  • Discussions highlighted how by embracing Smart building technologies, intelligent energy management, demand response capabilities, and data-driven decision-making the UK can accelerate progress toward its net zero targets while simultaneously creating more sustainable, resilient, and user-centric built environments.
  • A discussion that emerged prominently was the importance of prioritising re-use over re-building. This paradigm shift towards a circular economy, where resources are utilized efficiently and waste is minimized, holds tremendous potential for transforming the real estate and infrastructure sectors.
  • Traditional metrics, such as return on investment and profitability shouldn’t be the only consideration for re-using assets. These should be complemented with broader indicators of social well-being, community engagement, and environmental sustainability. Re-purposed buildings can contribute to social cohesion, cultural preservation, and local identity, creating vibrant, economically prosperous communities.
  • In the transition to net zero, the industry needs to be brave and initiate change – understand existing estates, support clients to agree on what they want and make the case for investment.