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Social Value Portal

Unlocking Social Value in real estate globally

Read the highlights of our ‘Social Value in Real Estate’ webinar, with insights from Longevity Partners, Catalyst, and our CEO Guy Battle.   


While sustainability has been high on the agenda for real estate for some time, the focus has traditionally been on environmental considerations, like carbon emissions and air quality. Impact on communities and individuals has been a lower priority.  

 Fast forward to 2024, and things look very different. The world of real estate is waking up to the immense promise of Social Value – not just in the UK, but globally.  

 We recently explored this in our ‘Social Value in Real Estate’ webinar, with a panel of experts:  

  • Guy Battle, CEO, Social Value Portal 
  • Eoin Leonard, CEO and Founder, Catalyst 
  • Gabriela Palma Ho, Global Social Impact Lead, Longevity Partners 
  • Kanon Tsuda, Senior Strategy Consultant, Longevity Partners  

Note: Shortly following the webinar, Social Value Portal welcomed Gabriela to our Consulting team, with Kanon becoming Longevity’s Global Social Impact Lead! 

They covered key Social Value trends, where value is being created for communities, and how new tools like the Real Estate Social Value Index (RESVI™) are making measurement of positive impact more accessible than ever. Read on for the highlights.  

How buildings create Social Value 

Guy Battle kicked off with a key observation: “Buildings are not spaceships”.  

On the contrary, buildings are a part of our society and communities – in fact, they create our communities. A pivotal consideration has to be: how does a building, the team that manages it, and its occupiers contribute to society as a whole? 

Guy explained where Social Value is typically created across the development lifecycle:  

  • Construction: 20% of Social Value creation is accounted for by the construction process, including jobs created, local spend, and how the tier one contractors and supply chain engage with the local community.  
  • Management: A further 20% comes from how the building is occupied and managed, from security to external upkeep. Are local charities used? Is local labour being sourced?  
  • Occupiers: The remaining 60% is unlocked by the occupiers’ initiatives in partnership with the community.  

 Insights on a shifting landscape 

Eoin Leonard, CEO and Founder of technical advisory and ESG consultancy Catalyst, specialises in supporting clients navigate regulatory shifts, as well as the shifting attitudes of investors and asset managers.  

He noted that the market has recently moved toward impact investment, driven by regulatory changes, especially those in the EU. Here are some of the major trends affecting the real estate investment space right now:  

Social Value is being considered earlier  

Developers are increasingly embedding community engagement initiatives and impact assessment at the earlier stages, with frameworks like the Social Value TOM System™ enabling a more targeted approach.  

Diversity and inclusion is influencing the development process 

Both the planning process and asset management space are becoming more accommodating to diversity and inclusion, with building designs being tailored to meet the needs of diverse groups and diverse use cases.  

Place-making is becoming more prominent 

Developers are increasingly prioritising the experience of the individuals interacting with the buildings, as well as biodiversity and other externalities.  

Measuring impact with the Real Estate Social Value Index 

An important step in creating a more equitable and responsible real estate sector will be effective measurement of the Social Value created by already-existing (or 'in-use') assets.  

Both Longevity Partners and Catalyst are users of the Real Estate Social Value Index (RESVI), a detailed, standardised tool for measuring, reporting, and amplifying the Social Value generated by in-use real estate and infrastructure assets. 

RESVI gives us a tool to align with our impact goals, whether those are the SDGs, or very specific goals that we’ve identified. It provides a risk management tool, giving us the ability to understand and manage social risks within the context of our buildings and the buildings that we manage.

Eoin Leonard, CEO and Founder, Catalyst

Catalyst recently worked with a major retail town centre of over 1.2 million square meters where numerous Social Value activities were already in action. Using RESVI, Catalyst was able achieve an exceptional Social Value score – the town centre is now using RESVI to engage with partners, as well as improve their GRESB score.   

Longevity: Social Value in the global real estate market 

Longevity Partners is a London-headquartered ESG consultancy, covering a variety of areas in sustainability. Its global footprint gives the team deep insight into the evolution of sustainability, ESG, and Social Value around the world.  

 In the full on-demand webinar, you can see Gabriela Palma Ho’s overview of different regions’ different levels of Social Value maturity, from the UK and EU to APAC, the US and Africa.  

She also revealed some of the major trends she and her team have observed across these regions:  

  • Education: One hurdle is lack of awareness around just what Social Value is and how to make progress in the real estate sector.  
  • Influence: Many organisations struggle to influence other relevant stakeholders to support Social Value goals – highlighting the importance of truly embedding Social Value in real estate decision-making. 
  • Alignment: There is a desire to align Social Value strategies to existing sustainability strategies and reporting frameworks, such as GRESB.  

Quantifying Social Value: The importance of adaptability 

Quantification of ‘social’ considerations with numerical figures has been key to the rise of the Social Value movement – with the TOM System leading the way.  

However, quantification may mean different things in different regions. Gabriela commented: 

We see that in regions making more progress quantifying the ‘S’, the approach to quantification is more creative. It doesn’t stop at monetisation. Where Social Value is well diffused, there tends to be more harmony between the qualitative and quantitative aspects. The quantitative output also has more variations, incorporating percent demographic, independent suppliers engaged, and so on.

Gabriela Palma Ho, Global Social Impact Lead, Longevity Partners

Priorities also naturally vary in line with geographical needs and cultural priorities. For instance, diversity, equality, and inclusion monitoring tends to be more stringent in the US, while in the UK the cost-of-living crisis has pushed affordable housing further into the spotlight.  

This underscores the importance of responding to local needs and putting in place measures which compliment those needs. Social Value is ultimately about meeting real needs in an effective way – and real estate offers an unparalleled opportunity to do just that.

Want to learn more? 

To gain deeper insight into the evolving landscape of Social Value in real estate, be sure to watch the on-demand webinar 

Or, find out how our clients are driving Social Value through their developments with our Success Stories in Real Estate report 

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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