Derwent London Joins Pioneering Approach to Energy Performance


Derwent London plc has become the newest addition to the Design for Performance Pioneers; a group of major UK property developers who have committed to an innovative approach to overcome the energy performance gap for new office design. This new approach comes off the back of the latest findings of the industry backed Design for Performance (DfP) initiative.

Derwent London is the latest developer of eight to adopt a ‘Design for Performance’ approach on at least one office in its development pipeline, setting targets for operational energy use, embedding these within the development process and verifying performance during full occupation. Derwent London has also agreed to help fund the development of an investment grade rating that reflects actual performance in use alongside the initial seven DfP Pioneers: Great Portland Estates plc, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Landsec, LGIM Real Assets, Lendlease, Nuveen Real Estate and The Crown Estate.  

This ambitious collaborative industry backed and led Design for Performance (DfP) initiative set out to address the UK’s ‘Design-for-Compliance’ culture and the ‘Performance Gap’ whereby base building energy consumption is considerably higher than the original building design intent. The UK’s current regulatory framework has exacerbated this by failing to measure operational performance - the amount of energy a building uses once in operation.

The DfP initiative is inspired by the hugely transformational Australian NABERS scheme for new offices. The DfP feasibility studies and pilot studies demonstrated the significant benefits to be gained by adopting a Design for Performance approach in the UK. A relentless focus on performance outcomes not only delivers better designed, better constructed, better commissioned and better operated buildings, but a base buildings rating can also act as a proxy for better quality buildings that are attractive to both investors and occupiers.

Sarah Ratcliffe, Chair of the Design for Performance Executive Board, and Programme Director at BBP said: “The Design for Performance Initiative is delighted to welcome Derwent London as the newest DfP Pioneer. They have already demonstrated their long-term commitment to sustainability across their real estate portfolio. As a DfP Pioneer, Derwent London are making a valuable contribution to leading the industry and supporting the use of an accurate rating to reflect the operational energy performance of buildings.

John Davies, Head of Sustainability, Derwent London said: "We are delighted to be become a DfP Pioneer and participating in the development of this new benchmark. This reinforces our commitment to ensuring our buildings comply with the highest achievable energy performance standards and a fully joined up approach from our teams during design, construction, operation and monitoring."



PRESS: Lucy Elderfield  

DFP PROJECT: Sarah Ratcliffe  




The Design for Performance Project is an industry initiative which was initially supported, funded and overseen by 22 Project Partners, including: ARUP, BBP, BCO, BSRIA, BPF, British Land, CIBSE, The Crown Estate, BEIS, EDSL, Energy Action, Laing O’Rourke, LGIM Real Assets, NG Bailey, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Stanhope, Nuveen Real Estate, Transport for London, UKGBC, UBT, VERCO, Willmott Dixon. Overall industry funding was matched 85% by the Usable Buildings Trust charity, which enabled extensive input from leading experts in Australia. The DfP Pioneers, who have committed to implement DfP on a project in their pipeline and will also be funding the next ‘Pioneering Phase’ of the project, include: Great Portland Estates plc, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Landsec, LGIM Real Assets, Lendlease, Nuveen Real Estate and The Crown Estate. Ove Arup & Partners and Cundall are the first firms to commit to becoming DfP Delivery Partners.  

The energy efficiency of new offices in the UK is subject to Building Regulations Part L and represented in market transactions by Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). However, these mechanisms do not produce a building that is energy efficient in operation as focus is placed on design and technology that improves predicted building performance, not on achieving directly measurable improvements in performance whilst the building is in operation.

The DfP initiative aimed to change the way new office developments are designed in the UK, by exploring the applicability and opportunity of developing and testing a framework similar to the hugely successful Australian NABERS Commitment Agreement. A feasibility study was completed in May 2016 assessing whether a DfP approach similar to the Commitment Agreement Protocol used by NABERS could be applied in the UK. The project then entered in to an 18-month pilot to test the ingredients of such a protocol on real office developments.


Australia’s NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) office energy rating scheme targets the operational energy performance of the 'Base Building' (services typically under control of the property owner i.e. the heating, hot water, ventilation and air-conditioning of the whole building, light and power in common areas, and the lifts). The scheme covers 86% of the Australian Office Market, and other world-leading initiatives using NABERS have helped Australian buildings save more than $790 million and 5.4 million tonnes of CO2 since the program started in 1998. 

For new office developments, a framework has been established whereby clients, developers and their teams sign up to – and then follow - a “Commitment Agreement” to design, construct and manage buildings to achieve agreed operational performance targets. Since its introduction in 2002, its effect has been transformational and has subsequently shaped a design-for-performance culture. The amount of energy used by a typical new office Base Building has halved since the system was introduced and the very best buildings consume only one-fifth of the amount of energy.


The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) is a not for profit collaboration of the UK’s leading property owners who are working together to improve the sustainability of the UK’s existing commercial buildings. The organisation's aim is to deliver market transformation through sustainability leadership and knowledge sharing across the UK property industry. The BBP currently has 30 members who represent in excess of £200bn Assets Under Management (AUM).

The BBP has 30 Members who include Aberdeen Standard Investment, Aviva Investors, Blackstone, British Land, Bruntwood, Cadogan, Canary Wharf Group, Capital & Regional, CLS Holdings, Cording Real Estate Group, DWS, Great Portland Estates plc, Grosvenor, Hammerson, Hermes Investment Management, intu Properties, Landsec, LaSalle Investment Management, LGIM Real Assets, Lendlease, Low Carbon Workplace, M&G Real Estate, Norges Bank Real Estate, SEGRO, Shaftesbury, Schroder Real Estate, Nuveen Real Estate, The Crown Estate, Transport for London and Workspace.