Shaftesbury’s Sustainable Refurbishment at 39 William IV Street


Shaftesbury chose 39 William IV Street to test the feasibility of achieving BREEAM Very Good on domestic refurbishments in older buildings. The completed scheme will deliver 576m2 of modern residential accommodation and 405m2 of restaurant space, all with high operational efficiency. As a result of the project, Shaftesbury now plans to target BREEAM Very Good on more domestic refurbishments, as well as commercial schemes.

On track for BREEAM Very Good

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) B

Modern space for residents and restaurants

Extending the building’s useful life


Shaftesbury is a listed Real Estate Investment Trust, which invests exclusively in London’s West End. Much of its portfolio comprises older, ‘domestic’ size buildings within Conservation Areas. Through Shaftesbury’s active refurbishment programme, the company is improving the long-term sustainability of historic buildings. Shaftesbury aims to reduce energy consumption by 3% year on year.

Building on the success of the BREEAM Very Good rating that Shaftesbury achieved at 22 Ganton Street for a commercial refurbishment (more here), the team set a corporate target to pilot BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment on a suitable project.

The refurbishment of 39 William IV Street in Covent Garden is a typical example of Shaftesbury’s programme to improve buildings, grow rents, and unlock value. Thought to be a 1940s rebuild following bomb damage, the whole building had been occupied by Spaghetti House since the 1970s. The refurbishment will retain much of the building’s structure and façade, whilst creating two restaurants on the lower levels and seven residential apartments on the upper levels. Works include reinstating the original third floor as residential and introducing an access route to the new apartments via the residential building at 38 William IV Street.

The project team includes architect and project manager Fresson and Tee, structural engineer Franks and Lewin, main contractor Roots Contractors Ltd and BREEAM Assessor RPS. The team started on site in July 2016 and the scheme is due for completion in August 2017.



The scheme achieved BREEAM Very Good at design stage, scoring above 70% for Energy, Water and Management and above 60% for Waste. The project team is now working towards BREEAM Very Good for the completed scheme.


  • Applying a ‘fabric first’ approach – adding wall, floor and roof insulation, as well as installing new party walls, windows with u-values up to 75% better than before and doors with u-values up to 17% better.
  • Fitting energy efficient LED lighting internally and externally, with multiple circuits that can be individually controlled and dimmed to minimise consumption.
  • Installing motion sensors and timers on external lighting and in common areas.
  • Specifying high efficiency gas boilers in each apartment, with dry NOx emissions up to 40mg/kWh, versus 100 mg/kWh for conventional boilers, and new insulated pipework for heating and hot water.
  • Installing A+ rated fridge freezers under the EU Energy Efficiency Labelling scheme.
  • Introducing energy display devices in each apartment, so residents can monitor and proactively manage their energy use.


  • Installing water efficient appliances, such as dual-flush WCs and low-flow taps.
  • Fitting individual water meters in each apartment, so residents can proactively manage their water use.


  • Carefully managing the construction process to minimise waste and maximise re-use and recycling, implementing a site waste management plan.
  • Targeting 16.9 tonnes of construction waste per £100,000 project cost.
  • Including fixed recycling bin with 30-litre capacity in each kitchen to maximise recycling by residents.


  • More than 80% of new building materials and elements responsibly sourced using the BRE Green Guide to Specification.


  • Providing Home User Guides for residents, to help them run the new space as efficiently as possible.
  • Offering aftercare support to residents for at least 12 months, as well as carrying out site inspections and post occupancy interviews within three months of moving in.

Health and Wellbeing

  • Targeting an airborne sound insulation and impact sound insulation 3db better than Building Regulations Part E.
  • All decorative paints and varnishes with low VOC emissions.


  • Approximately £2 million total project cost.
  • Energy cost savings for restaurants and residents.
  • £10,000 BREEAM assessor and certification costs.


Benefits for Shaftesbury

  • Enhanced occupier appeal, creating modern space that is both attractive and efficient.
  • 14% increase in rental space, delivering 980m2 of residential and restaurant space, up from 857m2.
  • Reduced construction costs and environmental impacts by retaining 40% of the building structure and façade.
  • Stronger sustainability credentials, targeting BREEAM Very Good and upgrading the EPC to B from F.
  • Less exposure to the Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, which come into force in 2018.
  • Adding to Covent Garden’s residential community, an essential element of the area’s character and economy.

Benefits for residents and restaurants

  • Modern space, with excellent thermal comfort levels and air quality.
  • Improved energy efficiency, cutting costs and CO2 emissions.
  • 19% less water consumption per person than the minimum BREEAM requirement, using up to 104 litres per person per day.


Challenges & Achievements


How to achieve high BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment ratings?

It is key to introduce BREEAM requirements at an early stage. At 39 William IV Street, Shaftesbury set the Very Good target before detailed design and before the contractor had been appointed. The BREEAM advisor was then able to work with Shaftesbury and Fresson and Tee to add elements into the design and contracts, gaining extra BREEAM credits. Examples include targeting sound insulation that exceeds Building Regulations, using the BRE Green Guide to Specification for new building materials and targeting a high Considerate Constructors Scheme score. It can be difficult and expensive to add requirements at a later stage. It is also important to gather evidence for BREEAM, something that Fresson and Tee estimates adds around one week of project management time. 


How to minimise condensation when insulating older buildings?

At 39 William IV Street, the team specified different insulation and vapour protection systems to suit each wall, with a range of wall types retained across the building. In addition, the installation of a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery will mitigate the risk of condensation and maintain air quality, whilst minimising heat loss.


How to expand benefits?

Shaftesbury has set a corporate objective for 2017 for all refurbishment projects above a capital value of £1 million to aim for BREEAM Very Good. Project teams will be able to benefit from the 39 William IV Street experience and draw on the Sustainability Checklists that Shaftesbury already implements on all projects. These are updated annually to ensure good practice in design and construction, which means that many BREEAM requirements are already being met or exceeded.

Find out more

Rob Kirk

Portfolio Executive



“Our experience at 39 William IV Street has shown that if you introduce BREEAM early enough on domestic refurbishments, it’s possible to significantly improve long-term energy performance, without significant additional efforts or costs. BREEAM is helpful in maximising sustainability performance and credentials, which brings benefits both for Shaftesbury and for the people and businesses based in our buildings.”

Rob Kirk, Portfolio Executive at Shaftesbury