Recent Sussex University graduate, Josh Whitlock, is working as a Sustainability Intern at Unity Real Estate. He sat down with us to discuss his background and work on Unity Real Estate’s Net Zero Carbon initiatives.
Q: Josh, welcome to Unity Real Estate. Could you give us a glimpse into your background and the role you’re taking on here?
A: My work here focuses on Unity’s Net Zero Carbon initiative. Back at Sussex University, I studied Biomedical Science, where I was also involved in sustainability projects. During my time with the University Hockey team, we worked on cutting down travel emissions for our games. Now, at Unity, I’m developing our Net Zero Strategy which starts with carbon baselining.
Q: Carbon baselining sounds intriguing. Could you dive a bit deeper into what that involves and how it contributes to Unity Real Estate’s goals?
A: Of course! Carbon baselining means calculating the current carbon emissions for our real estate activities. I am working with our external consultants, Greengage, to gather the data which supports their calculation of our current carbon baseline. There is a huge amount of data to collect, over the past five years, which will enable us to calculate our carbon emissions per square foot for each building but we’re determined to calculate our emissions accurately. It’s the crucial starting point on our path to Net Zero Carbon.
Q: Your personal interest seems to sync well with what you’re doing at Unity?
A: Absolutely, it’s been great working in an area I’m personally interested in. I’m enjoying the interactions with our tenants and I’ve learnt to be persistent in my efforts to engage them in the process- we really need their help to gather the emissions data. I’m also using my project management skills to track the activities and key deliverables to ensure that our consultants have the right information to do their work.
Q: So, what comes after you’ve got the carbon baseline sorted?
A: Once we’ve established our carbon baseline, the next phase is to develop our Net Zero Carbon Strategy. The Strategy will set out a comprehensive plan with actions and milestones to determine a path and timeframe to achieve our Net Zero Carbon ambition across the portfolio.
Q: Why do you think that Net Zero Carbon is so important for a business like Unity?
A: Well, when you consider that the built environment is responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions, it’s hard to ignore. Real estate businesses can make a huge contribution to carbon reduction though the minimisation of embodied carbon and energy in use. It’s also a commercial imperative because market data clearly shows that occupiers will pay a premium for low carbon space.