Developing sustainable buildings
Sustainability sits at the core of what we do. The integration of sustainability throughout the design, construction and operation of our properties is key to ensuring that our buildings continue to meet the requirements of our occupiers, enhance local communities and minimise their environmental footprint. To see how we are supporting our local communities through our projects see our Community Strategy and our Social impact report.
- Decarbonise our business to become net zero by 2030;
- Design climate change resilient and adaptable spaces;
- Create a lasting positive social impact in our communities; and
- Put health and wellbeing front and centre.
Whilst our Sustainable Development Brief provides clear direction and deliverables to our project teams in respect of energy and carbon, water, waste, responsible procurement, transport, ecology, flexibility and adaptability, smart technology, wellbeing, community and social value. We use building rating tools such as BREEAM and SKA to ensure a consistent approach, requiring all new build developments and major refurbishments to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating. Smaller refurbishments must achieve a minimum of a silver SKA rating with gold preferred.
Our business model is based on repositioning properties, often selling the assets we have created and recycling the proceeds into new opportunities. We will therefore often purchase lower rated assets with a view to improving their sustainability performance through the refurbishment and development process. Our legacy of creating more sustainable spaces is impressive with 2.0 million sq ft of sustainable space delivered.
See Our performance for our current performance on sustainable ratings for our assets.
Climate change adaptation and mitigation
The buildings we are designing today are likely to still be in use well after 2050. This is why we have committed to ensuring that all our new build developments achieve net zero carbon from 2030.
We consider resilience and adaptability from the start, undertaking a climate risk assessment process for all developments. When considering energy and carbon, in addition to ensuring that our properties exceed building regulations requirements for energy efficiency, we are also prioritising renewable energy technologies and transitioning away from fossil fuels across our portfolio. We will also seek to use local heat and energy networks to optimise operational performance and reduce embodied carbon.
Our Soft Landings processes, seasonal commissioning and Post Occupancy Evaluation, undertaken six months after the property is let help to ensure that our buildings operate efficiently once in use. We use technology to help improve efficiency and productivity. For more on how we achieve this see our Sustainable Development Brief.
As part of our review of the physical risks of climate change, we identified a longer term risk of water shortages and drought in London. We are seeking to address this through building design incorporating water efficient processes and fittings. This includes our cooling strategy, washroom facilities and irrigation of green spaces, considering rainwater and greywater harvesting where practical.
Embodied carbon is a key part of our business carbon footprint, through our Sustainability Statement of Intent and our ESG linked RCF we have committed to a target of reducing embodied carbon across our developments and refurbishments by 40% by 2030. Reducing embodied carbon in our development processes is key to creating net zero carbon buildings by 2030. We are therefore working with our supply chain and design teams to improve data, consider alternative materials and improve construction processes to drive improvements across our development sites. We will report on progress against this target for the first time in May 2021.
The Hickman – Sustainable from the outset
At The Hickman, our 74,700 sq ft development in Whitechapel, E1, we have fully integrated sustainability, wellbeing and technology from inception. We are refurbishing the fabric of the existing building to reduce the total embodied carbon of the project and, with a BREEAM Excellent and EPC A rating targeted, it is expected that the building will achieve an energy improvement of almost 40% over current Building Regulations' energy efficiency requirements.
160 Old Street
At 160 Old Street we retained the original concrete frame, reducing embodied carbon for the development. The building achieved a BREEAM Excellent certification, EPC A rating and FSC Chain of Custody Project Certification. The development also includes a blue roof, which helps retain water run-off and contributes to cooling the building. A green roof and extensive outdoor terraces support biodiversity and wellbeing, whilst our photovoltaic array generates some of the energy for the building. With our occupier app fully in use at the building it is also our smartest building to date.
With 864m2 of outdoor space and 525m2 of green roof, our Hanover Square development will contribute to improved urban greening in London’s West End, positively impacting biodiversity and community health and wellbeing. We will also be supporting the wellbeing of our occupiers who will benefit from 306m2 of outdoor terraces, an extensive cycle store with showers and lockers. Sustainability was designed in from the start with the development on track to achieve BREEAM Excellent and an EPC A rating.
As part of our refurbishment works at Elsley House, we were keen to design in sustainability and wellbeing. New openings in walls and between the floors introduced light and connectivity. Previously underutilised pavement vaults have been reclaimed to provide showers, lockers, a cycle store and WCs, without compromising the existing office areas. The original fine metal windows were also painstakingly restored with micro double-glazed units greatly improving their thermal performance.
200 Gray's Inn Road
Since purchase in 2011, the 287,000 sq ft building has undergone significant repositioning. Through a multi-phase refurbishment programme, we have created innovative, high quality, floorplates that have helped redefine the building. After incorporating a new cycle centre and shower facilities, the final phase of the refurbishment was to transform the reception area, remodelled to provide an enlarged seven-metre-high reception space, incorporating a green wall, and a new café offer providing a flexible space for our occupiers and the public. We also introduced our first ever lifestyle manager, providing an exclusive concierge to help support the everyday demands of the building’s users. This development is an exciting and collaborative space in which our occupiers can thrive.
Designing in wellbeing
A sustainable building should also contribute to the wellbeing of our occupiers and the local community, supporting healthier, happier and more productive lives. We know through our review of material risks that internal and external stakeholders rate wellbeing as one of our top three issues.
We are putting Health and Wellbeing front and centre. Through our Wellbeing brief we take an integrated and inclusive approach to ensuring that relevant health and wellbeing aspects are considered during the design process. Where appropriate we collaborate with our occupiers to achieve certification and consider elements such as:
- Indoor air and water quality;
- Thermal, visual and acoustic comfort;
- Urban greening; and
- Healthy behaviours.
Through use of technology including sensors and our occupier app we also help support the wellbeing of our occupiers.
We also look to retrofit wellbeing into our existing buildings, working with our occupiers to implement additional facilities and services where possible, improving access to open spaces, integrating urban greening and retrofitting cycle and shower facilities where possible.
Through our Sustainability Statement of Intent “The Time is Now” and our ESG linked RCF we have committed to a Key Performance Indicator of improving biodiversity net gain across our portfolio by 25% by 2030. This will be tested on an annual basis. This will help support Climate Change resilience of our buildings, through reducing the urban heat island effect and improving building shading which supports the cooling of our buildings. Improved biodiversity in our cities also assists in improving local air quality and supports improved health and wellbeing. We therefore install urban greening measures wherever possible, maximising biodiversity through appropriate design and selection of species. We look to select drought resistant plants and look to use water harvesting to reduce water consumption for irrigation. Please see more on our plans to support community urban greening projects in our Community strategy here and our Social impact report.
Air quality has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people living, working and socialising in London. Through our Community strategy we are supporting a number of air quality initiatives. By installing green roofs and green walls and increasing planting on terraces we can help to improve local air quality and by installing cycle stores, locker and shower facilities in our buildings we help support our occupiers who prefer to run, walk or cycle to work.
We also address local air quality by collaborating with our construction contractors using more off-site fabrication, increasing the use of off-site consolidation centres to minimise vehicle movements and through the introduction of strict guidelines such as prohibiting idling engines on our sites.
This is further addressed through the design of our building services to ensure that waste collections, deliveries and post and parcel services are properly considered.
Enhancement of the public realm
We believe our developments should play an active and positive role in building strong communities in and around them. We provide opportunities for communities to network through the provision of public realm. We work to understand local priorities and related strategies through engagement with the local authority and community stakeholders. To see more of what we're doing in the community, see community relationships.
Smart and flexible spaces
We must be able to adapt our built environment to ensure that our spaces encourage maximum productivity and provide the flexibility our occupiers need. Through design we ensure that our buildings integrate new technology where applicable, helping to increase efficiency and improve wellbeing. Integrating building systems provides us and our occupiers with real time information on energy consumption, which allows better utilisation of space, improved productivity and provides data on where energy savings can be made. Through technology we can also provide feedback on occupancy levels, temperature, light levels, air quality and noise, helping our occupiers to thrive as their business needs evolve.
For more on how we are designing in sustainability, wellbeing and innovation from the start see The Hickman.
We are committed to reducing waste and using water responsibly. Our ultimate aim is for 100% of waste from our demolition and construction activities to be diverted from landfill and to generate a maximum of 7.5m³ (or 6.5 tonnes) of construction waste (excluding demolition and excavation wastes) per 100m² of GIA. For more on our performance see our Sustainability Performance Data Report.