We improve and extend the useful economic life of our buildings through refurbishment, change of use and reconfiguration. All our portfolio is located in Conservation Areas and around 20% of our buildings are listed. Within these constraints, we strive to provide environmentally efficient commercial and residential accommodation as well as advice to occupiers, to minimise the overall impact of our business on the environment.
We achieved a recycling and composting of food waste rate of 55% for Carnaby and Seven Dials. We encourage composting by our restaurant tenants, and active engagement with tenants has increased the proportion to 18%. The remaining waste is diverted from landfill to energy from waste schemes.
Our refurbishment projects diverted, on average, over 98% of waste from landfill.
We recognise the decline in air quality in central London and although we cannot directly influence this, we are promoting measures that will contribute to an improvement. We promote to occupiers the benefits of delivery consolidation and the use of a zero-emissions vehicle through our nominated suppliers. Through this initiative, there was a saving of 2.9 tonnes of carbon over the course of the year – equivalent to 6,838 miles driven. Biodiversity measures also help with improving air quality.
This year we have engaged with our tenants to address the environmental issue of single-use plastic that is affecting both the local and global environment. Initiatives have included the installation of a water fountain at Kingly Court as part of the #OneLess and Mayor of London initiative. To date, the equivalent of over 20,000 500ml plastic bottles have been avoided.
We hosted a two-week public exhibition to raise awareness of single-use plastic and had a visit from Plasticus The Whale. The Carnaby arch was themed for WWF’s Earth Hour 2018 and our Street Eat food festival in August was entirely single-use plastic free.
Our objective is to achieve BREEAM Very Good for all larger commercial and domestic refurbishment schemes with three schemes completing during the reporting period and a number of others are in progress with the majority on course to achieve at least Very Good. In total over 10% of the portfolio by floor area is on course to be BREEAM certified.
Energy consumption has been largely unchanged year-on-year reflecting fluctuations in tenant numbers and occupancy. Due to the increased use of renewable energy in the national grid, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by over 16% from 1,316 tonnes to 1,099 tonnes.
We continue to make good progress against the Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). From April 2018, demised areas at the time of letting are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade E or above.
Properties that have in the past been assessed at Grades F or G are currently occupied. Once they become vacant, we will carry out such works as are necessary to improve their rating to above the minimum level.
A number of properties have not been assessed yet as they are let on long-term leases which have not been subject to an expiry since 2008, when EPCs were introduced. They will be scheduled for works, to meet or exceed the requirements of MEES, when the leases expire.
Of the EPCs assessed after refurbishment, over 80% were a grade C or above.
Use of materials
We maximise the re-use of materials on site in all our refurbishment projects, with a significant proportion of the primary structure and external façade retained. Similarly, our approach is to re-use timber. Timber features such as windows, joists, floorboards, staircases and panelling are retained where possible.
For the small volume of timber purchased, 89% was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and, overall, 96% was sustainably sourced with full chain of custody.
We recognise the importance of promoting biodiversity. The West End is an intensively-used urban area, which needs thriving and connected green spaces. This is important both for wildlife and the health and well-being of occupiers and visitors.
This year we made further progress with our goal to improve the biodiversity of empty and inaccessible roof tops. Through installing additional features throughout the portfolio, including green roofs, sedum roofs, window boxes, bird boxes and insect homes, we have increased total area coverage by 33% from 9,524 sq. ft. to 12,644 sq. ft.
We promoted Defra’s Bees’ Needs Week again this year, by installing a bee-themed Carnaby Street arch and hosted a pop up ‘Hive’ on Carnaby Street, which helped to promote bee conservation organisations and research. Our work was recognised by DEFRA with an award as a Bees’ Needs Champion 2018 for raising public awareness of the needs of pollinators.
We have installed two bee hives in Carnaby, making a total of five across our portfolio.