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Prupim expands sustainability efforts

Prupim, the UK-based real estate investment arm of M&G, has taken steps to further its sustainability efforts. The manager has teamed up with Royal & SunAlliance to provide Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for Prupim’s entire property portfolio, thought to be an industry first.

Paul Cornes, Prupim’s director of sustainability

Paul Cornes, Prupim: ratings impact

Prupim has been actively developing sustainability practices. In 2005, the manager became the only UK real estate investment manager to achieve ISO 14001 certification. That means it has met the prescribed standards created to help organizations minimize how they negatively affect the environment, comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements. In addition, it is drafting a sustainable development policy and it has already created an Improver portfolio. That initiative seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings the manager already owns. "A firm can become carbon neutral without doing anything by using offsetting. All they need is a chequebook," says Paul Cornes, Prupim’s director of sustainability. "There is a need to reduce primary impacts. Carbon offsetting is not enough."

From April 2008 under the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Energy Performance Certificates will be required for any building that is constructed, sold, or rented. EPCs will rate the energy performance of a building, enabling both property investors and prospective occupiers to consider energy efficiency ratings and levels of carbon emissions.

"The EPCs bring a valuable certification to our properties as we believe ratings may impact the values of properties in the future," says Cornes. "The new relationship with R&SA follows on closely from the work we have already undertaken with ISO 14001. Prupim is committed to leading the market in recognizing the environmental challenges faced by the property industry and investing in long-term solutions."

EPCs will be accompanied by a report containing recommended measures to further improve the energy efficiency of a building, together with an inspection and report specifically related to any existing air conditioning systems, one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions in a building. EPCs will be delivered by R&SA’s strategic energy partner, Charterhouse Energy.

The EPC initiative comes in the wake of the launch of Prupim’s Improver portfolio, which launched in April 2007. In this project, Prupim is examining ways it can reduce a typical property portfolio’s carbon footprint while maintaining or enhancing returns. The portfolio consists of 25 Prupim-managed properties across all sectors.

"Fund and asset managers are now thinking they might want to spend a little extra now [on properties that are environment-friendly] and get a premium later," says Cornes.

Ecofys, the environmental consultant appointed by Prupim, has completed an energy and environmental audit for each property in the portfolio to establish baseline figures for future measurement, such as the level of energy and water consumption.

The firm has also been encouraging tenants in its retail properties to implement low-cost and no-cost measures to reduce their environmental impact. Prupim has distributed a list of Top Tips for Environmental Improvements at Shopping Centres to tenants, to help them make these savings.

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