Taking a more sustainable and environmentally sensitive approach to real estate development is a growing trend, not just in Mexico, but of course around the world as well. We are all becoming increasingly aware of the very real, very practical consequences of climate change, and of humankind’s direct impact on the natural environment.

And clearly, as real estate investors, we have a important role to play in this process. By working alongside innovative and forward thinking developers, we are in a position to be able to take an approach to real estate development that takes into account the needs of the world around us. It is an area that I feel deeply passionate about, and I am proud to see that our country is already beginning to take huge steps towards taking a more sustainable approach to the built environment. But what form is this progress taking? Here, I wanted to highlight just a few areas in which Mexico is leading the way.

A growing awareness

First though, a little bit of context. The changes that are already taking place within the Mexican real estate sector have come about in an atmosphere of growing concern about the impact of the built environment upon the natural one. We are living in a time where it feels, in Mexico at least, as if everyone – from politicians to the business community – is at last coming to terms with the fact that more needs to be done. Positive action on sustainability is, in many cases, coming about because of the very real threats that many millions of vulnerable people are now seeing from climate change – whether it is through increased risk of flooding or other direct impacts on their communities.

Raising the standards

One of the most important changes that is currently taking place is the way that the Mexican real estate industry has embraced the demands of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) environmental sustainability LEED standard. Mexico is currently tenth in the rankings and this, for me, is hugely encouraging, as it shows that incorporating environmental considerations into new developments is becoming increasingly important. The standard has been a part of the culture of Mexican real estate development since around 2006, but it is only in the last few years that the steady growth we’ve seen over the years since has really started to accelerate.

So what are the drivers behind this? Why are increasing numbers of developers and investors beginning to put environmental and sustainability concerns at the heart of the projects that they work on together?

An opportunity for change

Well, one suggestion is that many investors see Mexico as a real estate market in which they can make a fundamental and dramatic impact. Take Mexico City – clearly one of the country’s biggest markets for real estate, but also a place that has long been seen as one of the most polluted cities on the planet. According to Andres Galvis, one of the experts at international design firm Ware Malcomb, this perception has actually been a driver for many companies who are looking to make a positive environmental difference.

““I think a lot of it has to do with the reputation that Mexico City has as probably one of the most contaminated cities in the world,” he says. “That is a driver for foreign companies that come not just to Mexico City but to Mexico in general. They’re making a push to make the environment more friendly.”

Good for the planet, good for growth

It is also clear that many of the major players within the Mexican real estate industry realise that taking a progressive approach to the sustainability of their projects is also highly attractive to potential investors.

These investors are now increasingly likely to use sustainability as one of the most important deciding factors as they put together their investment portfolio. Why? Well, because ultimately, they know that the sustainability of a project can directly impact the financial performance of their real estate asset – and so this has to form a major part of their investment decision.

One of the most helpful tools investors have available to use to make these kinds of investment assessments has been the GRESB benchmark – essentially a global standard that helps investors to see how the assets they are considering investing in perform, in terms of environmental, social and governance concerns.

Trillions of dollars worth of properties around the world are already being benchmarked in this way, and GRESB is now having an increasingly important influence on the decisions that investors are making about real  estate in Mexico.

It is just one of many factors driving a change that I believe will transform the whole landscape of real estate in our country.