The announcement this morning of the next phase of the Design for Performance project, along with 7 pioneer partners is welcome news. An operational energy rating for buildings is an obvious gap in the UK so the news that this project brings with it the potential for UK office owners to be able to rate building performance using the internationally recognised NABERS system is equally, if not more, encouraging.
Whilst the fact that we need a project like this to align the operational performance of buildings with their design is telling in itself but taking a glass half full approach, it demonstrates that there is a lot we can do to improve performance and reduce carbon emissions, and an appetite amongst businesses to do it. Coming hot on the heels of the recent IPCC report and the resumption of fracking makes it welcome news indeed.
Having braced myself to read the IPCC report, it left me feeling less downcast than I thought it would, for the real estate sector at least. We are responsible for a considerable chunk of carbon emissions but this means there is much opportunity for improvement. Projects like DfP are real evidence of sector-leaders' willingness to rise to the challenge. We also have multiple examples of companies who have been setting and achieving ambitious energy and carbon targets for some years. The BBP members have achieved a 20% reduction in energy consumption across their like-for-like portfolios in the last 5 years, avoiding 58,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and saving an estimated £15m.
And some companies both within and beyond the BBP membership are really raising the bar. Lendlease, Unibail, Mirvac and of course Hammerson have all set Net Positive targets for our businesses, either at a project or cross portfolio level, for at least one environmental impact. At Hammerson we have set targets to be Net Positive for carbon emissions, water, resource use and socio-economic impacts by 2030 and have included the tenanted areas of the portfolio in this target. This is a more rapid trajectory than that identified by the IPPC report but essentially, the quicker we move the better the outcomes will be; time really is of the essence here.
And if we can do it, so can others. Setting an ambitious target has focused my colleagues' attention and their interest. Everyone can and does contribute to this target, from switching to a keep cup to changing the specification of a BMS, installing a solar array or delivering a carbon neutral retail park, everyone understands it and everyone is involved.
The business benefits of a forward thinking sustainability strategy are clear - we estimate savings to energy bills across our portfolio of over £750k through relatively simple changes. The business benefits of designing buildings to perform efficiently and in line with the needs of their occupiers, and then delivering buildings that operate in accordance with that plan, are significant. It sounds so obvious, but it remains elusive. The DfP project brings us a step closer to achieving this.
So that was a very long winded way of saying bravo to the BBP and to all the businesses involved in the DfP project. In case you were wondering, Hammerson is not one of them because there is not a retail version at the moment, only offices ☹️. But I am reassured that is a temporary state of affairs and look forward to being able to participate in the future.
For more information on the DfP project visit the BBP DfP page: http://www.betterbuildingspartnership.co.uk/our-priorities/measuring-reporting/design-performance
For more information on Hammerson's Net Positive targets, visit our Positive Places website: http://sustainability.hammerson.com
This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn here.
Louise Ellison, BBP Chairman
Head of Sustainability, Hammerson