A tribute: Professor Sarah Sayce
We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Professor Sarah Sayce on Monday 22 November 2021. This is a terrible loss for both the Henley Business School community and wider real estate profession, and our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Sarah originally came to us as an undergraduate student and then went on to study for a PhD here before returning to her alma mater and becoming part of our academic faculty in 2017, where she held the position of Professor of Sustainable Real Estate.
Since becoming an academic she has taught and researched in many areas of the built environment and is widely published, notably in the field of sustainability and real estate, with her significant contribution to research on property decarbonisation, energy performance, retrofitting and land value capture.
Sarah was well respected in her field and highly regarded by both her students and colleagues alike, sharing her wisdom and experience by taking on a mentoring role to new faculty entering the profession. She also spent time supporting activities with our alumni community, most recently serving as academic lead for a Henley Summit which explored the future of our workplaces. Described as “a thoroughly decent woman who always put others first and was prepared to stand up for what she believed in” her colleagues commend her “willingness to always go above and beyond for others” and her “passionate commitment to student-centred real estate teaching and practitioner relevant research”.
During her career she worked on numerous funded research projects including two EU funded projects in the field of energy efficiency and property values, and she also co-authored several books. Her main research focus was in the areas of sustainability and land value capture, and her work on the latter led her to be invited to join the All Party Parliamentary Group on land value capture. She led the joint Reading and Royal Agriculture Universities’ research project on London development land values which was the highly commended runner-up in the 2017 Royal Town Planning Institute Research Excellence Awards.
She was an active member of the Green Finance Institute Coalition for Energy Efficient Building and served on the Property Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) advisory panel. Recently she worked with the United Nations Environment Programme on a high-profile report which called for better understanding of how climate change impacts real estate values.
Beyond academia Sarah made a huge contribution to the real estate profession and was an inspirational practicing Chartered Surveyor and a long serving member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Governing Council and Valuation Group. Described as “tenacious and principled”, Sarah always maintained that “people and relationships still lie at the heart of real estate professionalism and integrity, and underpin responsible, successful commercial business”.
Sarah notably held the position of Chair of two charitable grant giving trusts; The Aubrey Barker Fund, a grant giving body aimed at encouraging surveying education in developing countries, and the Property Research Trust. In addition, she was a Trustee of the Ethical Property Foundation, a charity which provides free and affordable expert property advice and education to the charity sector.
Her significant achievements throughout her career are a testament to her hard work, dedication, and intellectual rigour.
Following the sad news of her passing Sarah’s colleagues and friends have paid tribute to her, noting “she was a bundle of energy and had enthusiasm for everything, seeming to thrive on being very busy and operating over a wide range of activities. She had unlimited time for students and her research and committee work, and was somebody who appeared to say yes to everything and then had the organisational ability to deliver anything and everything.”
She will be sorely missed by all those who had the great privilege of working alongside her.