By Zsolt Toth, RICS EU Affairs Manager
Nobody can deny these days that European construction and real estate markets need further transparency and more reliable data. A voluntary, industry-led initiative, could be the key driver of change in the sector.
Despite the fact that buildings represent a high-value but also a high-risk asset for investors, limited availability of information and lack of a common and systematic storage of data is common feature of the European property markets. This is not only generating additional costs and inefficiencies in designing, constructing, operating and financing buildings across Europe but is directly affecting consumers’ decisions. Lack of information and transparency increases risk and undermines investor confidence.
Market participants along the building value chain routinely gather and discard information – information that is actually immensely valuable for a number of reasons including regulatory compliance, planning, cost management, operation, maintenance, insurance as well as essential investment and financial decision-making. Most of this information however, is not collated in one place and a systematic approach of organising and managing this information is largely missing.
Mapping of information flows between designers, builders, local authorities, regulators and assessors have shown that practically none of the information goes from the beginning to the end of the supply chain: some stays with particular professionals or suppliers, some of it needs to be created two or three times over for valuation, transaction or insurance purposes, and typically almost none of it ends up with end users.
In transactions, the lack of transparency and information asymmetry both create a situation, where information quantity and quality is not equally available to all parties involved. RICS, in its mission to promote confidence through international standards, is convinced that a common, industry-led and voluntary building passport could play a valuable role in boosting the availability of information to a broad range of market participants. We are now working with the European Commission and the real sector to develop guidelines that could optimise the capture and processing of building information. In an age where Big Data is no longer seen as disruptive or a threat but as a means to more efficient and streamlined processes and decision-making, we believe that built environment stakeholder will recognise the actual value of information and building performance data as well as the potential for innovation and uptake of energy efficiency and sustainability measures.
Ahead of COP22 in Marrakech, RICS in collaboration with working group members, have developed a global data capture and management survey. We want professionals, policy makers and stakeholders to tell us what type of data they are collecting and for what purpose, and also what the major challenges are in relation to more systematic data capture and management by stakeholders along the value chain. Preliminary survey results will be presented at COP22 and final results will be summarised in a report in 2017. zt