At the heart of our environmental sustainability strategy is extending the useful lives of our heritage buildings, through refurbishment and change of use.
We have long been committed to operating in a sustainable way. At the core of our sustainability strategy is reusing and improving, rather than redeveloping buildings. In doing so, we extend their useful economic lives, while preserving the West End’s rich heritage for future generations.
Climate change is an increasingly significant issue for society. The UK Government has an objective of achieving net zero carbon by 2050. As the owner of a portfolio of buildings in central London, we recognise the need to respond to this challenge, with Building Regulations and MEES having an important role.
Our strategy to maintain and refurbish existing buildings is an intrinsically sustainable approach. It conserves embodied energy within existing materials and avoids unnecessary waste, materials and energy required to construct new properties. We acknowledge that there is much more to do to meet the challenges of climate change.
With over 800 commercial tenancies, we are in a good position to influence and support our tenants’ own sustainability strategies. We report on our own impact, but are aware that our tenants’ activities can have a much greater contribution on our environment. We have engaged more widely this year through both the Blue Turtle initiative and the use of a new tenant portal in Seven Dials. Both initiatives will be expanded and used to help guide our tenants’ sustainability activities. We will seek to increase engagement with our tenants, to ensure that we are all working together to address these issues in 2020 and beyond.
In order to ensure that we meet environmental standards for good building design and operation, we follow BREEAM principles when we refurbish a building. For all refurbishment projects with a value over £1 million, we aim to achieve a BREEAM certification of Very Good. Since we introduced this requirement, we have had 19 schemes certified, extending to approximately 10% of the portfolio. We have a number of other schemes which should be completed in the year ahead which will increase this percentage.
All buildings, other than listed buildings, are required to have an energy performance certificate to measure their e±ciency. Under MEES regulations, all demised areas are required to have an EPC of grade E or above. Set out below is the current status of commercial and residential demises in our portfolio.
The majority of properties assessed as F and G grade or unassessed are currently occupied. We have a programme of improvement to address the small number of residential properties which need to be upgraded by 2020. For commercial properties, there is a requirement that all properties should be at least a grade E by 2023. As part of the ongoing refurbishment programme, when they become vacant, we will undertake works to improve their ratings.
Energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions
Our direct energy consumption is relatively low, as the majority relates to the, usually, small common parts of buildings. There is a trend towards the collection of whole building data which we are working towards. For the full report on GHG see page 96. We have seen an overall reduction in GHG emissions of 10% across the portfolio during the year.
We have committed to developing Science Based Targets for the reduction of emissions to reach the Government’s target of net zero carbon by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
All the energy we use in our common parts is from 100% renewable sources. Our Carnaby Christmas decorations this year are also powered using renewable energy.
As with landlord purchased energy, our water consumption only relates to common parts and is a relatively low figure. We intend to engage with our tenants to identify ways in which to expand monitoring and identify opportunities to reduce water consumption.
Our water fountain in Kingly Court has saved over 75,000 500 ml single-use plastic bottles since it was installed in June 2018.
The West End of London is an urban landscape. The biodiversity and urban greening in our areas is important for visitors and those working and living in our areas, from a health and wellbeing perspective as well as improving the environment for local wildlife. Activities this year included:
- supporting WWF’s Earth Hour in Carnaby with a themed arch and encouraging our tenants to show their commitment to action on environmental issues.
- supporting the launch of Defra’s Bees’ Needs Week campaign and providing a retail unit for Defra to promote the importance of pollinators in the ecosystem. For the third year running, we have been awarded Defra’s Bees’ Needs Champion for our work in this area.
- opening our roof terrace as part of Open Roof Weekend, for the Mayor of London’s National Park City Festival. Over 350 people visited during the weekend.
- our employees picking litter up from the Thames as part of a community day, in partnership with Thames 21 conservation charity.
Wild West End
Wild West End is a collaboration with a number of other West End landowners to promote biodiversity. Its objective is to encourage birds, bees and bats back into London’s West End. Since the partnership undertook its 2016 baseline study, the number of green installations, across all its members, has increased from by 22% to 309.
In September 2019, Wild West End received the Biodiversity and Environmental Net Gain award at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s Sustainability Awards. The project was commended by the judges as ’really imaginative– a well thought-out programme, with a highly diverse set of parameters considered’.
Waste and single-use plastic
Reduction in waste, and particularly single-use plastic, is an important priority for us. We recycled and composted 59% of waste in Carnaby and Seven Dials during the year. The recycling rate across the portfolio is 44.5%. We have introduced a trial of coffee cup recycling in Carnaby and are monitoring its usage.
Blue Turtle initiative
Climate change, ocean degradation and plastic pollution are recognised as the most significant and growing threats to ocean health. To help prevent these impacts, it is essential that we engage with our occupiers and encourage them to consider better use of resources towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Blue Turtle is an initiative, we developed during the year, in partnership with ocean conservation charity, Project Zero. It is working to improve environmental sustainability in our cafés and restaurants, by enhancing awareness of the environmental consequences of their operations and how they can adapt their businesses. The initiative, which started in Carnaby, will now be rolled out to other locations.
Businesses participate in the Blue Turtle initiative by making a pledge and by auditing their own practices through an online toolkit. Their participation encourages them to commit and set targets against the Blue Turtle Criteria. Participants who commit to improve their practices gain the Blue Turtle Commitment Mark, which they can display within their premises and online channels.
Since it was launched in June 2019, over 45 Carnaby cafés, restaurants and pubs have made a pledge and 17 Carnaby businesses have been awarded the Blue Turtle mark, signifying their commitment towards being ocean-friendly.