Content provider for

Guy Grainer
Global Head of Sustainability & ESG

07 November 2023

Can you provide a brief introduction to JLL and your role within the company?

JLL is a globally recognized real estate services firm, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, offering comprehensive solutions to investors, occupiers, and public authorities across various real estate asset classes. Our services encompass the entire lifecycle of real estate, including policy advisory, management, and sustainability strategies. Personally, I have spent eight years in an executive role, including five on the global executive board overseeing the EMEA business. For the past two and a half years, I have spearheaded our global sustainability services, aiming to enhance our contributions to environmental conservation and climate change mitigation.

Our commitment to sustainability is not just theoretical but practical. We have a validated science-based target and are aiming for a net-zero goal by 2040 across Scopes 1, 2, and 3. This dual role of delivering to clients while also ensuring JLL’s internal practices align with our sustainability goals provides a holistic approach to contributing positively to environmental preservation and sustainable development.

How does JLL contribute to the sustainability of real estate, considering the significant impact of buildings on climate change?

JLL is deeply embedded in the entire lifecycle of a building, offering services from developing strategies to reduce carbon emissions to management and reporting. Our key focus is on reducing energy consumption by enhancing building efficiency, transitioning to cleaner energy supplies, and advocating for sustainable development practices. We leverage technology, systems, data, and human behavior to create smart buildings that consume less energy. Our approach is also geared towards transitioning from fossil fuels to cleaner energy alternatives for building operations.

In the realm of development, we are helping clients explore ways to either minimize the use of concrete and steel or avoid them altogether by repurposing existing buildings or utilizing sustainable materials. This comprehensive approach ensures that we limit embodied carbon and actively participate in creating a future where buildings contribute minimally to greenhouse gas emissions.

Given that many existing buildings are over a decade old, how is JLL addressing the challenge of retrofitting to enhance their sustainability?

Indeed, the reality that a majority of standing buildings are already over a decade old underscores the importance of retrofitting. We collaborate with companies and cities to cost-effectively repurpose buildings, focusing on the entire building’s carbon footprint. There is a growing preference for repurposed buildings as they often present a greener alternative to new constructions. Take U.S. flooring specialist Interface. We worked with them to transform an old building into a great example of a modern workplace that champions sustainable design, supports employee health and wellbeing. Policy and private sector collaboration is crucial in this evolution, and European cities are notably proactive in promoting the repurposing of existing structures

How do you ensure cost-effectiveness in retrofitting and the use of sustainable materials in construction?


Cost-effectiveness is a crucial aspect of promoting sustainable building practices. We’re seeing demand from occupiers shift towards repurposed buildings, driven by a growing awareness of the environmental impact of new constructions.


Moreover, innovations in sustainable materials and construction techniques are making it cost-effective to either build anew sustainably or retrofit existing structures to meet modern environmental standards. Some new buildings, particularly in Northern Europe, are utilizing highly sustainable materials like low-carbon concrete and timber.

The focus is not just on buildings’ visual and functional appeal but also on their environmental footprint. While some buildings may be challenging to repurpose due to their inefficiency, the use of sustainable materials and the retention of existing structures, including foundations, offer viable paths to reducing emissions. The economic argument for retaining existing structures and materials is becoming increasingly compelling as we explore smarter, more innovative ways to make real estate more sustainable.

What is the link between real estate and electric vehicles?

The connection between real estate and electric vehicles is becoming increasingly apparent as the transition to electric transportation accelerates. Vehicles move from one building to another, such as workplaces to homes or logistics warehouses to delivery points. Consequently, the integration of electric vehicle charging infrastructure within these buildings is essential. As electric vehicles become more affordable and accessible, the demand for on-site renewable energy solutions is also rising. It is imperative that these vehicles are powered by clean energy to truly realize their sustainability benefits.

Electric vehicles and buildings are intertwined in the context of energy supply and demand. The increasing number of electric vehicles and electrified buildings puts a strain on energy grids, necessitating the expansion of clean, renewable energy sources. Solutions include on-site renewable energy installations on buildings, the development of microgrids for energy security, and increasing the proximity of renewable energy sources to cities and buildings.

How do renewable energy sources and storage technologies contribute to this linkage?

Currently, various forms of renewable energy like solar panels, wind, and hydro are being utilized to supply clean energy to buildings and electric vehicles. However, the challenge lies in the inadequate volume of these resources and the inefficiency in energy storage. With advancements in technology, the future promises better battery storage and enhanced on-site renewable energy solutions, paving the way for buildings equipped with efficient energy storage systems. This progression is vital for managing energy demand effectively, especially during peak times.

This ongoing evolution in energy supply and consumption presents a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators. The demand for green, electrified buildings with clean energy supply is outpacing the current supply. This disparity underscores the urgent need for accelerated development and retrofitting of buildings to meet the growing demand, ensuring they are not only equipped with renewable energy sources but also efficient storage systems.

In the context of the green transition, how important is collaboration within the real estate industry?

Collaboration is pivotal in the green transition, moving beyond the traditional contractual relationships between building owners and occupiers to a more synergistic approach. By fostering collaborative relationships, both parties can exchange insights and innovations to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of buildings. This shift is essential for ensuring that both occupiers and investors are jointly invested in the green transition, aligning their efforts to achieve common sustainability goals.

What message would you like to convey to the real estate industry regarding this green transition?

The transition to green and sustainable practices is a collective journey where collaboration outweighs competition. Both the owners and occupiers of buildings play a pivotal role in this transition. Moving away from strictly contractual relationships to a more collaborative approach can foster an environment of shared learning and innovation. It is through this synergy that efficient and sustainable practices can be realized, enhancing the green credentials of the real estate sector.

As JLL’s Green Lease 2.0 research highlights, building owners and tenants are putting more emphasis on joint equity in the transition to green buildings, with both parties equally invested in sharing costs and benefits to achieve common sustainability goals. This balanced partnership can lead to more effective outcomes, promoting energy efficiency and the incorporation of clean energy supplies. By fostering such collaborative relationships, we can accelerate the green transition, making our buildings not only places for living and working but also pillars supporting the global sustainability agenda.

  • Share on: