How Will Changes in Urban Mobility Affect Property Managers and Contractors?

electric vehicle charger

Welcome to the second article in our ‘Sustainability in Repairs and Maintenance’ series. Last time we discussed outdoor spaces and how they can be made more sustainable. In this article we’re staying outdoors but instead of dwelling in our garden or green spaces, we’re going to move around and get mobile.

Urban mobility is a big focus for creating a sustainable future. As the global population swells and cities become more densely populated, so too are our roads and streets. Bulging cities and towns aren’t just a problem for the environment or the people trying to get around.

According to Future Cities, “Between 2013 and 2030, it is estimated that traffic congestion may cost the British economy as much as £307 billion.”

That’s a lot of money. And it’s only nine years away.

It’s a big task to solve and requires engagement from many stakeholders, including making it easy for the public to engage.

How can and how are property managers able to get involved in improving urban mobility?

We’re going to take a look at solutions that are being presented now. And we’ll discuss what this means for property managers, specifically when dealing with repairs and maintenance.

What does more cycling mean for property managers and contractors?

Cycling has gained a lot of attention in cities across the UK. If only we were as attached to two wheels as the Dutch are. That said, we are seeing more and more cycling infrastructure being provided within cities and surrounding areas. As campaigners push for more cycling provision and Governments in the devolved nations continue to invest in cycling, it’s very much a mode of urban mobility that’s on the agenda.

With more cycle paths and more encouragement to cycle, there will be more cyclists, which means there needs to be a view to installing more safe and secure cycle racks. This is especially necessary for people who live in apartment blocks and flats who might not have space in their home to store bikes. And may not have a lift to make it easy to transport their bike to and from their home, even if they did have space.

The need for bike storage might not be a pressing concern but it is something that property managers are starting to consider, especially in larger cities in the UK.

Not only because retrospective installing of safe and secure bike racks could prove to be problematic, but there might also be funding available to residents and flat owners to help them do this.

So what better way to delight clients than to offer something they need that will enhance their building, and their lives?

More electric vehicles on the road – how will this affect property managers and contractors?

Electric cars are becoming more of a feature on our roads, which also means we are beginning to see more and more EV charging points.

“The electric car market is growing quickly, with more than 235,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of March 2021, and over 495,000 plug-in models if including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).” 

And according to the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), “EVs are rapidly growing in popularity, with demand more than doubling over the last year thanks to massive industry investment worth some £54 billion in 2019 alone.”

Whilst the industry grows and with more legislation being introduced to cut emissions, the infrastructure has to change too. But not without challenges.

In the same article by the SMMT, one barrier to switching to electric is a lack of local charging points, with 44% of respondents citing this as a reason not to go electric.

This statistic alone shows how property management companies could contribute to breaking down this one barrier to going electric.

And it’s already being implemented by forward thinking businesses.

In 2018 Newton Property Management, joined the Glasgow Herald’s Climate for Change partnership programme.

“Newton set aside an initial giveaway fund of £100,000 for the first phase of an electric vehicle charging point initiative – and want to have upwards of 50 charge points installed by 2020.”

Three years on from the decision to take a leap of faith into the world of electric vehicles, we caught up with Derek MacDonald, the EV Guru and Joint Managing Director at Newton Property Management to find out how they’re getting on.

“We took a chance on it.” Derek said.

And it’s a chance that appears to be paying off. Newton is most definitely at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution as they continue to add more and more charging points throughout their portfolio. It all began at their own office space which is nestled at the bottom of a residential building in Glasgow’s Port Dundas area on the north side of the city.

The test charging point was used by staff during the day, with residents and any EV drivers using it in the evening and at weekends. And it was all the proof Derek and the team needed, that they were onto something.

Fast forward three years and their latest project installing a dual charging point at a new 32 flat development on the outskirts of Glasgow. With Derek showing his level of commitment when he visits the development to host an information session for residents, their clients.

During our spirited conversation Derek told us, “It’s a stepping stone. You have to put the charging points in so that people can see how they work and how good they are. Once they see the cost savings and benefits, people will switch. As that awareness builds, it’s then that we move on to ‘passive networks’. These are entire car parks where cabling and additional power supplies are installed ready to be activated with a charging unit. It’s essentially, ‘plug and play’ as all the work is done.

 

We need the property management industry to join us on this vital step to electric vehicles.

 

They’re not coming, they’re here already. If we don’t act now, we’ll be chasing our tail.

 

EV charging points are soon going to be a necessity, not a choice. And residents are going to demand and expect it.

 

We’re glad we took the risk, it’s paying off for us. People are using the units. We see it on our EV interface which I check every morning. We’re leading the way and we desperately want the industry to learn from what we are doing.”

Derek’s story of Newton’s success so far is too good to condense into this article. So we’re going to write an additional dedicated piece as we believe it’s an important story to tell.

Car sharing growing in popularity  

Can’t afford or can’t switch yet to electric, what about sharing a car? The ‘sharing economy’ is growing in popularity with tool libraries and co-working on the increase.

So why buy a car that sits stationary for most of the day, when you could share one?

As cities continue to grow, car ownership is becoming more constrained by costs and space, and people’s attitudes to car ownership is changing. Car sharing is a perfect option for many people who want to get around but don’t want a car. The exponential growth of car sharing presents an interesting dynamic for property managers.

“According to Navigant Consulting, global car sharing services revenue is expected to grow to US$6.2 billion by 2020, with over 12 million members worldwide. The main factors driving the growth of car sharing are the rising levels of congestion faced by city dwellers; shifting generational mindsets about car ownership; the increasing costs of personal vehicle ownership; and a convergence of business models.”

For car sharing to be able to work, those businesses need on street parking or accessible neighbourhood parking spaces for their cars to be dropped off and picked up. This requires a big network of space to be bought up and branded.

According to Wikipedia, “Building developers are now incorporating share-cars into their developments as an added value to tenants, and municipal government bodies around the world are starting to stipulate the implementation of a car sharing service in new buildings, as a sustainability initiative.”

What does this mean for property managers? If car sharing businesses want to create a big accessible network, they need space that’s close to homes.

Car sharing could be an initiative that property managers want to actively encourage. They could begin to seek spaces in their portfolio to join forces with car share operators. If car sharing is growing in popularity it could be a very attractive benefit to have a car share space close to home.

And if car sharing spaces are to be included in new buildings, then car sharing businesses will need to deal with property managers for access and potentially taking over the maintenance of the space.

In conclusion…

Whether it’s making space for car sharing, installing more EV charging points, or making space for bikes, being part of the solution is most definitely an option and, many would say, a must, for property management companies.

If urban mobility isn’t yet being discussed around the board room table, or virtual board room table, of property management companies, we think it has to be. And sooner rather than later.

Are you a property manager or contractor involved in urban mobility initiatives? We’d love to hear from you for future articles! Get in touch with us hello@blockworx.co.uk