Why real estate stakeholders should seize the opportunity of inclusion and diversity

The urban context

Currently, cities account for around 80% of the GDP generated worldwide. Yet today, one out of three urban residents in the developing world still lives in slums with inadequate services. In addition, the majority of future urban growth is expected to take place in Asia and Africa, regions that are home to some of the poorest countries in the world.

The concept of inclusive cities has been being implemented for 20 years (UN-Habitat, European commission…). In 2015, the UN have defined Sustainable Development Goals which encourage every economic sector to participate to achieve these goals and in November 2016 a group of 47 mayors signed the Paris Action Plan for Inclusive Growth in Cities.

Due to these intertwined stakes, cities represent a great leverage to tackle inclusive growth. In particular, an inclusive real estate project could be defined as its capacity to include everyone’s rights and duties and to offer equal lifestyles for everyone, taking into account the climatic, environmental and social stakes.

A massive opportunity for the Real Estate sector

Buildings are part and parcel of our urban lifestyle, not only because we spend 90% of our time inside them, but also because they host any activity that can contribute to growth (work, education, health…). Inclusion is thus a crucial stake to tackle for the real estate sector, especially as the context of projects is getting more difficult, including:

  • Numerous stakeholders with a wide range of expertise and backgrounds
  • New types of projects around international or national competitions (C40…) and new regulations around sustainability
  • New ways of living and using the built environment: porosity of professional and personal lives, digitalization, access to massive information continuously, the evolution of ways of working…
  • New types of business models from other economic sectors impacting the relations with end-users and how real estate stakeholders make profit

Inclusion and diversity are a way to give holistic and relevant answers.

Several urban projects have already taken these topics into account. For example, in Saint-Chamond in France, the project Novacieries is a new area transformed from an old industrial site. One of the major goals to achieve was to reinforce attractiveness. The district now features green spaces, playgrounds, sports equipment, learning center and also residential buildings, all designed with the inhabitants and a pool of experts. Users from the whole department are converging to enjoy this area and its services.

Novacieries, Saint Chamond (France)

How to tackle inclusion and diversity into projects?

There is a wide variety of topics to tackle while talking about inclusion:

We think defining criteria can help project managers to achieve inclusion in their projects.

What are the benefits for real estate stakeholders?

Benefits are multiple. Here are some examples:

  • Define and roll out impact strategy by reducing negative impacts and improving positive impacts, including the social pillar which is often underachieved and measured;
  • Contribute to the environmental targets set at the international level and detailed at a more local level (e.g. Paris Climate Agreement);
  • Improve buildings value by creating conditions for users to thrive and to adapt the built environment to their ever-evolving needs;
  • Value stakeholders’ roles in the value chain by increasing their bounds with final users
  • Find new types of tenants and users to enable a 24/7 use approach.

There are numerous ways to achieve inclusion and diversity in real estate projects. It is high time to find yours now!

This article was written by Anne-Claire Barberi, Responsible Innovation & International at ARP Astrance.