Episode 12

The built world meets sustainability:

How cities and suburbs are creating a new future.

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“The holistic version of sustainability– you know, looking at economic, environmental, social– is really coming down to the asset level now and really thoughtful design and really thoughtful innovation is happening now, just beyond bricks and mortar and returns on capital."

Jonathan Gibson, Global Director of ESG at Avison Young

"looking at economic, environmental, social– is really coming down to the asset level now"

In this episode

It’s a topic that connects all of our previous show topics together: environmental, social and governance practices and sustainability.

With all things climate change a major topic of conversation around the world, organizations and individuals alike from every sector and vertical are considering what steps they could take to build a greener world.

How do cities, suburbs, local governments, and federal actions work together – or in spite of each other – to create a sustainable built world of tomorrow? And what steps could each of us take to put our communities and the planet first?

Host Mariam Sobh discusses these topics and more with Avison Young Global Director of ESG Jonathan Gibson and University of Oregon Associate Professor Nico Larco in this episode of Changing Places.

Highlights

  • 11:30 Jonathan Gibson shares how cities can be drivers of change in the urban environmental movement
  • 19:28 Nico Larco discusses the impact of density on sustainability
  • 21:09 Nico Larco talks about the future of parking lot spaces – possibly reimagined as their demand in cities subsides

Click here to expand transcript

Mariam Sobh [00:01] Welcome to Changing Places, brought to you by Avison Young. In Changing Places, we explore our continuing and complex relationships with the built world around us. I'm your host, Miriam Sobh. Sustainability, ESG, COP26. What do you think of when you hear those terms? Are they as abstract for you as they are for me? Or does it make you think of lip service from world leaders with little action? Maybe you're already seeing real efforts in your local communities to address these topics. Let's face it, ESG, or environmental, social and governance factors, and by a larger measure, sustainability, impacts our built world. From cities making a concerted effort to provide more bike lanes and congestion zones to academics pushing for more density, not less. The world of sustainability in its broadest sense, relates to every topic we've discussed so far on changing places this season. In 2020. Deloitte predicted that by 2025 ESG total investment assets under management could grow to $35 trillion in the United States. Additionally, the largest amount of sustainable investing assets is in Europe, with $14 trillion, followed by the United States with $12 trillion. That's trillion, folks. Big investment firms like BlackRock are taking notice and have now integrated sustainability related information into the investment process. On a city level, Paris is leading the change with the creation of 900 miles of bike lanes, a ban on diesel cars from the city by 2024, and a ban on gas-powered cars by 2030, among other long term changes being implemented at the French capital by 2030. I'm going to dive into all things ESG with a focus on sustainability with my guests, Jonathan Gibson, Global Director of ESG at Avison Young, and Nico Larco, Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and Affiliated F Faculty in Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon. I'm looking forward to hearing their opinions and thoughts on what ESG and sustainability mean for us as we grapple with the changing world around us. But first, let's go to the streets of London to see what people think about sustainability.

Speaker 1 [02:20] Do I see a benefit to a more sustainable city and a future? In the long term perhaps.

Speaker 2 [02:25] Do you think it's a way off?

Speaker 1 [02:26] Way off, yeah, cause these congestion charges have been around for like a long time. I don't really think that much of a difference.

Speaker 3 [02:33] Yes, absolutely. I would love to see London go, like, car-free, even though that's quite a like bold thing to happen. I know that Oxford has like, made more of its streets car-free. I would be very, very keen for cars to go especially in such a well-connected city like London. I just don't really see the need for like cars and like diesel buses,

Speaker 4 [02:52] Paris is moving towards becoming a more clean city. And I guess it would have positive impacts for all of us. I think a cleaner city, more green spaces, it affects our health much better.

Mariam Sobh [03:03] Jon Gibson from Avison Young, welcome to Changing Places. Jon, I know ESG is a big topic. And I want to focus on your background in work concerning sustainability. When we talk about setting a sustainability agenda in an organization, who sets the agenda?

Jon Gibson [03:20] First of all, hello. Thanks very much for having me. It's a really good question. And you won't be surprised to hear that it's a real mixture, depending on who the organization is. And first of all, sustainability is being set within all sectors now, all types of organizations. So, that is pub- public sector, whether it's local authorities, municipalities, cities, or indeed national governments, and it's private sectors, investors, developers, occupier, businesses, corporates etc. And by that, I mean sort of the past two or three years, it's absolutely rocketed to the C-Suite ownership and leadership, who are absolutely not just paying lip service or allocating this to an expert within their business, they're really taking time to understand what sustainability means for their organization.

Mariam Sobh [04:11] So, would it be fair to say that sustainability is coming from outside forces like activism and also from internal choices? Or is it more folks on the inside have realized that this is the way to go?

Jon Gibson [04:23] Yeah, I mean, it's a really interesting question the way, you frame that. And, again, it's sort of, it's both internal and external. But it's also much broader than just outside forces in the form of activism and kind of internal CEOs or employees driving it.

Mariam Sobh [04:39] I want to get a little bit back to what sustainability means in more of a tangible example, I guess. So, let's say I have an investment fund and it has a billion dollars to convert an office building in Leeds into a sustainable building. Is it as easy as replacing light bulbs and installing solar panels on the roof or is it a more nuanced process?

Jon Gibson [04:59] Great, great question. I wish it was that easy because then we will be in a much better place within the built environment. It's an interesting scenario you paint because that will be a scenario that many of our clients are in now. And that's a question that we often get, particularly at large project phases of a building's life. So whether that's a new development or refurbishment or retrofit, as it's now becoming known, and, and as well as fit outs for occupier businesses. So, you've got a lot of money there to convert that office. But so therefore, with all that capital being invested into the building, you need to make sure that what you're investing now is the right solution, and that capital is being used in the most effective way. And that it will have a return on that investment, that that investment is future-proofed. So, if you are managing their building more efficiently, you are saving costs, you are increasing the life of those parts by managing them efficiently, and you're reducing carbon emissions as well. So, that's actually a triple win in that example. There are now very, very tangible and clear focuses on how healthy that building is for its occupants. So the holistic version of sustainability, you know, looking at economic, environmental, social is really coming down to the asset level now and really thoughtful design and really thoughtful innovation is happening now, just beyond bricks and mortar and returns on capital.

Mariam Sobh [06:23] Sustainability, I think it can be a bit of a hot button issue when we hear about companies like Tesla, for example, pushing for a future where a lot of our energy comes from batteries, and oil and gas companies are kind of pushed out. But mining for lithium isn't the best thing for the planet due to the pollution and heavy industry it brings to communities that it enters. So, I guess my question really concerns how a company like Tesla can be green and a model of sustainability when the thing they need to become green- in this case, lithium- isn't sustainable for the planet.

Jon Gibson [06:55] Yeah, it's a really good, really good observation, that and I think it comes back to the start of the conversation about sustainability being a long-term play, right? So yesterday, you can look at that and think that seems like a paradox or a contradiction. But it's about the vision and mission of a company. So, if they have that vision, if-Tesla is a very good example, they have an absolute vision of how they want to operate, how they see the world, and how they see their company and their customers operating to benefit from Tesla vehicles, right. And it's not just about Tesla, their vision is outside of Tesla. Again, going back to the concept of sustainability, they want to transform a whole sector, they want to transform people's lives by creating better mobility, accessible mobility, clean mobility, right. And as long as I think a company is believable and can show progression towards that- realizing that mission and vision, then I think we're not going to expect massive change overnight. And in fact, companies now are actually producing much more detailed, robust roadmaps and pathways on that transformation. And again, as a key essential ingredient of a sustainability strategy is to clearly show your roadmap as to how your company is transforming. Tesla is looking to essentially see direct partnership, direct sourcing for nickel, which is another valued mineral goes into production of electric vehicles. There may be unintended consequences of that. But hopefully, they'll learn quickly for the, for the good of the industry.

Speaker 4 [08:32] Electric vehicles are good, but then you have to think about the batteries and the lithium that they're using. And there's nothing sustainable about that. Anything that doesn't use fossil fuels from the earth, I believe. And we have to look towards that a bit more. And probably lessen our reliance on power.

Mariam Sobh [08:56] Do you think that- I guess I'm just thinking, if this even makes sense that what I'm about to ask, but do we need to pollute a little in order to pollute less in the long run? So maybe, at this point in time, it's considered pollution, but it's for the good. and 20 years from now, it'll be- there won't be pollution, I don't know.

Jon Gibson [09:15] I think it goes back to the balance, you know, is looking at the needs, right? So, if we look at it again, starting really high level, the the economic, social, environmental needs, right? If we had, if we were to have zero pollution tomorrow in today's economy and the way we work, that would be incredible from an environmental, health, and social perspective. But, in terms of how we can do our jobs and deliver value to the economy. it's unworkable. So, it goes back to my point I just made about Tesla is that as long as cities or governments or countries or individuals, businesses have a pathway have a trajectory on how they're going to reduce and can then demonstrates that they are on that pathway of reduction. Yes, of course it's fine to pollute. If they had no plan and if that were exacerbating the problem, I think that company would become very unpopular, devalued, and, at worst, extinct. If it wasn't tackling some of these issues in the long-term.

Speaker 1 [10:10] I also think in cities like pollution is a huge problem like today. Yesterday, on the news, they literally said Friday, today, is going to be like the highest level of pollutions. And they were encouraging people not to do strenuous exercise outside because, yeah, because the pollution levels today are so high. And there are there are pollution-related deaths every year in London, and the poorest, like, places are on the busiest roads and stuff. And people are forced to live there cause they don't have a choice. And then get, like, there was I think there was a child who died from asthma, but it was directly- it was the first time it was directly linked to pollution. So, it does have a huge impact. So, I think sustainable cities, like lessening pollution, it would definitely be a benefit cause it does have a real impact.

Mariam Sobh [10:59] Ithaca, New York has been in the news because their local government decided to make the whole city sustainable. And that's just one example, but could initiatives like that be seen in big cities like Paris or Tokyo? And do you think sustainability will have to come from government policy in order to make an impact?

Jon Gibson [11:16] I think it's a fantastic observation. And it's something we actually spoke about in our recent research. Avison Young, published back in October, just ahead of COP26, which is the climate conference in Glasgow, and we published our 10 trends for a zero-carbon world research, which we handpicked that we felt were the most relevant climate-related trends that were having an impact and would have an impact in the future on real estate in its broader sense. And what it found was that cities are actually the drivers of change. Cities are where, you know, up to 80 percent of carbon emissions occur, compared to sort of the, the wider national picture. And it's also where we're seeing some of the best evidence, as you say with Ithaca, on a huge number of different areas. So for example, the new mayor in Paris has just mandated that they're going to re-wild and essentially increase the biodiversity of Paris by a huge amount, the whole of the Champs-Élysées pretty much is going to be turned into a forest and a park with lots of places to sit and enjoy, away from the busy cars, which I think is like a four or five lane each way motorway pretty much through the center of Paris. Loads of cycling and walking accessibility. So, it's going to vastly improve the area. It's not just about more trees, or more bikes, more pedestrians. It's the whole planning, systematic planning, where cities can really influence that. Sixty-two percent of residents now commute to work in Copenhagen. We all known the Danes and people from Copenhagen love to cycle, 62 percent is a staggering number. EV car sales in Oslo, in Norway, reached 65 percent, and that was through local taxation. We're absolutely seeing building standards being driven by cit- at the city level. So really, cities are the future and cities are the driver of this change.

Speaker 1 [13:10] Would I benefit to a more sustainable city and future? Definitely, because, you know, climate change is such a prevalent issue, and although, yeah, it might not happen in our lifetimes of absolute destruction where, you know, the general ongoings of life cease, like, let's say, food scarcity, even worse, affecting kind of really developed cities, it is going to happen, and, you know, it seems selfish not to want to preserve as much as we can and stop that from happening for the future generations.

Mariam Sobh [13:53] Do you think regulations by government entities will bring a more immediate impact?

Jon Gibson [13:58] I think, in certain countries, yes. Perhaps where you don't have that city level leadership. There are certain, obviously, certain levers that the national government are in control of. Things like building codes and building regulations, you know, national taxes, which can be critically used for incentivizing organisations to invest in things like energy efficiency, and also reporting standards. So 100 percent regulation is essential at that level. And there's a real closing net of regulation around companies on their sustainability reporting to stamp out things such as greenwashing. So, the amount of disclosures that companies now have to make, particularly starting with large companies, but increasingly, that net is widening. So, there'll be standardized metrics in sustainability that companies have to disclose. And that disclosure can lead to all sorts of findings, you know, transparency for shareholders, consistency, because it standard- enabling better comparison between companies and where they put their capital to invest. So, absolutely, regulation can bring a more immediate impact. But it's not the only thing that is, that is needed.

Mariam Sobh [15:06] Before we wrap up, Jon, I wanted to know what trends you are seeing when it comes to sustainability or ESG more broadly over the next five years?

Jon Gibson [15:15] Okay. I mean, this is a conversation- this is a whole other podcast, I'd say. It's kind of a, kind of a free shot as to where we are. It's right at the start of the new year, 2022. I mean, really just carry on from where we were last year. I would just quickly say that, yeah, expansion of, you know, mandatory reporting for companies across the UK, the US, Canada, and the EU following suit on this climate related disclosures. That's going to be a big trend loads more details come out immediately this year. I think this idea of greenwashing, again, link to transparency. And also just people understanding better sustainability and what the information they're receiving, and what, you know, what companies and organizations are saying. I think that will get stamped out very quickly. And that acts as a real hymn, a real driver for change. And then I think lastly, I think better pathways and understanding of clean technologies. So I think that pathway for technology will become a lot clearer over the next few years as technology, R&D and deployment increases.

Mariam Sobh [16:20] Well, thank you so much, Jon, for joining us. It's been a real pleasure to have you on the program. When was the last time you decided to forsake your car for a journey on the subway or bus? Does the thought of cycling through a city fill you with euphoria, or outright dread? Or are you perfectly content with the way your built world has existed for the last 50 years? whatever side you're on, or maybe you haven't picked one yet, we've still got a lot to unpack on the topic of ESG and sustainability with Nico Larco from the University of Oregon, so be sure to stick around for the second half of our conversation. And just a quick reminder. Changing Places is a podcast brought to you by Avison Young that explores and questions our complex relationship with the world built around us. I'm your host, Miriam Sobh. I hope you're liking the show so far. If so, please hit follow and share us with your friends. Okay, let's go back to the streets of London and hear what people have to say.

Speaker 2 [17:15] Where do you think cities are succeeding in being more sustainable for the long run?

Speaker 6 [17:19] I think stuff like electric scooters, bicycles in the streets, that's helped me a lot. Because it makes people use car- use cars less and public transport.

Speaker 1 [17:28] Yeah cause we live in Bristol, and the main transport is just scooters that are powered by electricity. A lot of people here use Ubers or they- like, buses are great, but if you- people just like go and scooters or use a bicycle more, it's just better.

Speaker 4 [17:42] Where do I think cities are succeeding in being more sustainable in the long run? I think London in the terms of the congestion zone and the EULAs. They're being quite successful in that. And they're also in Canary Wharf, they have these kind of plastic recycle services, which are brilliant, and water fountains everywhere. So, I guess that's something that I think a lot of cities are doing well. We could do better, I guess there's always room for improvement. But I think that other countries need to step up as well and other cities.

Mariam Sobh [18:12] Nico Larco is here from the University of Oregon. Nico, welcome to Changing Places. Nico, I know ESG and, particularly sustainability, it can be a really big topic. And I'd like to know from your perspective what you're seeing on the ground right now with regard to the built world around us, mainly cities and suburbs. With so many folks working from home, moving out of the cities and not relying on urban infrastructure like buses and trains, which can lead to sustainability, how are we as a world handling this moment?

Nico Larco [18:41] This is a great question. And unfortunately, I don't think we're doing a great job. But I also preface that by saying it's an extremely difficult moment. So, I would preface everything with making it through right now is great. But, there are a few things that we're paying attention to regarding sustainability that have been brought about with a, with a pandemic. One of them is absolutely working from home, which there's been a tremendous rise in working from home, which on the one hand has a lot of fantastic things in theory that we're not doing these large commutes, right, which impacts the sustainability, all that burning of fuels. We've got a lot of reduced demand for transit. And part of that is because of people wanting social distancing. Part of it is from work from home. So, those- from work from home perspective, there's a lot of things that are, you know, a little bit, I'd say painful on the sustainability front. The other big question that I think we still have yet to see is how much the pandemic's going to affect where we want to live. I would say and you'll probably hear me say this a number of times that density is one of the best things we can do for increasing sustainability. It helps in a whole lot of ways. It helps you know environmentally reducing land consumption, it helps energy-wise and things are closer together and you don't have to use as much energy to move around. Denser housing units actually use less energy than a, for instance, single family home. It helps with equity issues, you name it, right, all these different things. Right now, cities are hurting a little bit. I'd say central cities are hurting. Will there be a push to more and more spread out development, which will be tremendously painful for, for sustainability issues. I think there is a little bit of hope, though, in all this in that while we are seeing central cities in some places like really taking a hit through COVID, you're also seeing a lot of continued rise because it's been happening for the last couple of decades. But a continued rise of the neighborhood center. We're not talking about nameless sprawl, here. We're talking about maybe lower-density development, but there is like a center that has a little bit higher-density, that has amenities, has places you can walk to, place- you know, coffee shop, these types of things. And so, I think that there's hope that with the pandemic, there's- even if people are moving out, the focus is less on the central city, they'll still be these neighborhood centers, which do have some density and can actually help a whole lot in sustainability.

Mariam Sobh [20:48] What is sort of the future look like if more people are going to continue working from home or stay in their own communities? And then you have all these empty parking garages in the in the downtown city centers. Are they just going to kind of crumble there? Are they- are we going to be reactionary and take them down and build a park that, again, people aren't there anymore, so are they even gonna go to it?

Nico Larco [21:09] So, in terms of what happens to all these empty parking garages, the parking lots, there's a tremendous opportunity here for redeveloping these areas. Anyone who's worked in the built environment will tell you that parking is the bane of their existence. So, the idea that we don't need as much parking right in these areas are empty, is a tremendous opportunity to increase density, increase amenities, right, fantastic. Take that parking area and turn it into a park. Great, that's a fantastic thing to be having. I don't think anyone likes parking any more than for the use of get- them getting out of their car, being able to put their car somewhere, and get to where they want to go. Outside of that, you know, they're eyesores. They're not fantastic places, they don't they don't add to an area. So, reducing that is a wonderful opportunity.

Speaker 7 [21:54] Yeah, I think, I think definitely, to make cities, like, more sustainable in that way. I think what London is doing already, we're making more places green zones and charging people, I can't remember what it's called. The emission zones. Yeah. And cars that charge. I think cities should work more at making places car free, and relying more on public transport. And if they made public transport more robust and reliable, then I think more people would use that over cars. Because I feel like in London, there's no really use have a car.

Mariam Sobh [22:31] If we look at green spaces through the lens of sustainability, when do governments need to make a decision about congestion zones, adding more bike lanes or public spaces to their cities?

Nico Larco [22:41] Well, there's a lot of things that need to happen to have cities shift over, everyone sees that there's a lot of change has happened. So, that's actually, like, created a tremendous amount of opportunity. Some of the things that you've been seeing in the, in the pandemic, in addition, some things I talked about for is a huge boom in bike use and bike sales, right. It- for a long time, even still, in the US, you know, there's a huge backlog of people wanting to buy bicycles. Utilization of bikes has gone up tremendously. So, there's been a real shift in those cities that you mentioned. I think you hear this in cities all over the world of, you know, instead of having this car-oriented, 'I'm going everywhere in long distances, that I don't really want to think about this 20 minute, 10 minutes, even I heard a- read an article this last week, the two minute city that's happening in Sweden, right? But this idea that you can get to everything easily right around where you're at, and you can walk or bike or take transit to those things. There was like a political shift, not just say in the politics, but in the political bodies, like the citizens, right, saying, 'This is not what we want. I want this other thing.' And then making a lot of decisions in policy and infrastructure and investment and personal decisions about where it is you want to live, and, and what's going to make around these things that all combined to make these great places that we're talking about.

Speaker 3 [23:57] I think like the expansion of public transport in cities like Birmingham, when they just got a tram network that's all electric. And I think public transport is doing really well. But we still have all the cars. Yeah, I think there's still a long, long way to go. And I don't particularly see London as a very sustainable city.

Speaker 7 [24:14] I can't remember off the top of my head, like what cities, but definitely, I want to say like somewhere like Taiwan, how there's a lot more sustainable architecture. So kind of integrating that a lot more, whereas I don't, I know, like you said, there's more green spaces in London, but I think other countries do put more of an effort in when they are designing new buildings. It is so conscientious Yeah. Yeah, with the integration of like being sustainable. And- but, I don't, I don't see that as often here, you know, with new buildings. Yeah.

Mariam Sobh [24:51] So, kind of along those lines, for cities to do long-term planning to drive sustainability, do you think, whether it's Tokyo, Toronto, or Cleveland, these cities need to give everyone access to alternative modes of transportation? Or is it just really up to the individual? Like, if they put more of these things out there for folks to use, will they use it?

Nico Larco [25:13] So, what we need to do is shift our ideal to be instead of, 'I want to move a lot of cars,' 'I want to move a lot of people and then make the other modes be as easy,' right? Let's make transit tremendously easy. Let's make biking tremendously easy. You know, I was fortunate enough to live in the Netherlands for the better part of a year a couple years ago. And the thing that was incredible is that I wanted to go anywhere, and I didn't even look at a bus schedule, a train schedule, or anything, right. I mean, if I was going to take transit, I just went to the stop cause I knew a tram, a train, a bus was coming in just a moment. That wasn't just in the Hague. That was anywhere in the entire country that I wanted to go to, right. I mean, between cities, it's just, it's an incred- it's so easy. I live in Portland, which is a fairly dense city with fantastic public infrastructure. And yeah, you know, it's pretty easy to make choices to bike or to take transit everywhere. Some cities just don't have that density that makes it work. So you know, Virginia Beach, as a city, I had student from Virginia Beach, and we looked at it a ton. It's tremendously low-density everywhere, right? How do you ever shift that to have these other modes be viable, right? So it's almost like we've painted ourselves into a corner. Really, it's not just a transportation question. It is a development density questions as well.

Mariam Sobh [26:27] It sounds like sustainability is not something that's just gonna be like, snap your fingers, and it's done. It's gonna take some time. How do you think folks can begin to be introduced to this concept without feeling like it's going to completely upend their life? You know, we love our delivery apps and our data and just things that may not, you know, be so sustainable.

Nico Larco [26:50] I always tell people, like, you know, have you ever, like traveled to Paris or, you know, Amsterdam or, you know, have you been in the cities? And most people are like, 'Yeah, loved it. Fantastic.' Did you drive there? 'No, like, no, of course not. It'd be so difficult there. No.' Right? Did you enjoy it? 'Oh, yeah. Great.' So, I use an example of we're all, we're all as humans, we- it's not like the Americans have this fundamental difference to the rest of the world and we don't understand how to use these types of these types of environments, or that we don't enjoy these types of environments or that we don't know how to use transit, or we wouldn't use transit, right? It's just that our built environment has not- we've made a lot of choices that, you know, personal, and I think societal choices that have pushed us in a direction that doesn't allow those things. There's definitely daily choices, changes that we can make. So, thinking about how it is we travel, right? Is it possible for me to walk or bike to that thing? Is it possible for me to take a bus or take a train to that thing, instead of driving? There's also things we can think about in terms of our consumption habits. Do we need everything exactly we have? Are we doing everything online? How are we thinking about packaging? Absolutely. So there's a lot of these kind of small daily choices that we can be doing. And then there's large choices, which, you know, they they seem overwhelming if we're all going to take them today. But we're all going to be faced with these choices in the next couple of years. Are there ways that you can either use transit or walk or bike or, you know, a lot of the shared modes exist so some people are, you know, saying, Well, I don't need that second car cause I can use Uber for the times that I really need that second car, right. Or I can use car share or I can use bike share these types of things. So, some of the- there really are kind of these daily choices you can make, but also these larger, kind of major life decision moments that we just need to consider exactly what it is that we want to do and the ramifications of those things.

Speaker 8 [28:42] Do I see a benefit to a more sustainable city in the future? I've seen cities in America, you need cars to get around cause this is, like, America. And it just looks dead. It just looks like shopping centers, car parks, something like, there's nothing there. But in cities like Amsterdam, and I've been there, they look- everyone looks more happier. They're just riding around in their bikes. And so, it's more residential as well, so people can walk to places.

Mariam Sobh [29:10] As we wrap up, Nico, looking to the future, are you seeing any trends we can expect to see when it comes to sustainability or ESG, more broadly?

Nico Larco [29:19] So, I would say there's a, there's a lot of great things happening, right. So I think, you know, even with the concerns that I have about some of the some of the issues around COVID and are we losing density in places, I think generally there's been a a interest in a quality of life that lets you walk and bike places, that has, you know, places that we enjoy being, right. So, not just a strip mall, but a place that has, you know, some identity some character. And so I see that as a fantastic. I'll say one thing, maybe one thing to mention that I think is really interesting and is just really coming into being more solid right now is the concept of mobility as a service, or MAAS, M-A-A-S, which is the idea that we have many modes that are easily accessible under kind of one way of accessing them, typically an app. So, the idea that I can get on my, my smartphone and choose if I want a car share, bike share, a transportation network company, so Uber and Lyft, if I want to get a scooter there, if I want to take transit there, and all those options are easily there. I can book them, I can pay for them, I can, I can find them, I can book them, I can pay for them all in one place. And that those things are starting to be co located. So, these things called mobility hubs, right. So, I've got a place in my neighborhood where you know, I have car-share, bike-share, it's got a pic- up and drop-off area for, for Uber and Lyft type services, and transit stop's right there, right. So, all of a sudden, all these choices are being made much, much easier.

Mariam Sobh [30:57] Yeah, that sounds like, like a dream to me to be able to have everything in one spot. And then you don't have to worry about maintaining your car, you just take it when you need it.

Nico Larco [31:04] It's, it's happening. There's a lot of pilots all over the country, a lot of them in Europe as well, that are piloting this right now. And we're definitely watching that closely.

Mariam Sobh [31:13] Thank you so much for joining us Nico. I'd like to thank Jonathan Gibson from Avison Young and Nico Larco from the University of Oregon for taking us on a deep dive into sustainability vis-a-vis ESG. I think it's safe to say that in the built world we all share, even the smallest changes in our own behavior make a difference. But changes at the level of government and multinational corporations make an even bigger difference and take us in leaps and bounds instead of baby steps towards a truly sustainable world. And really, who doesn't want that? I'm Mariam Sobh. And this is Changing Places, brought to you by Avison Young. Thanks for listening. See places changing and evolving in your neighborhood? Share your evolving spaces with us on social media using the hashtag #changingplacespodcast. I'm Miriam Sobh, and this is Changing Places. Changing Places is brought to you by Avison Young. Our producer is Andrew Pemberton-Fowler. Our sound engineer is Patrick Emile. Our production assistant is Gabriela Mrozowski. Additional production support is provided by JAR Audio.

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