160-year-old building up to 60% lower carbon than industry standard
The Threadneedle Low-Carbon Workplace Trust (LCW) is launching its first ever low-carbon refurbished building, putting into practice a new model of landlord-tenant relationship in which LCW takes an active role in helping occupiers to manage energy usage down on an ongoing basis. The first occupier, Investec Wealth and Investment Ltd, is already benefitting from energy efficiency advice to help it occupy the building as closely as possible to its design specification.
The Billings, located in Guildford, is a 160-year-old former printing press, selected as an ideal refit opportunity partly thanks to the thermal properties of its high-ceilinged rooms and thick walls. With the refit complete LCW’s exclusive Carbon Adviser, Low Carbon Workplace Ltd, a subsidiary of the Carbon Trust, is providing advice to Investec Wealth and Investment to achieve as much as a 60% operational carbon reduction over the industry standard*.
Low Carbon Workplace Ltd helps occupiers on an ongoing basis to actively manage their energy costs, monitoring usage and occupancy patterns before advising on how to meet energy efficiency targets – the tenant winning with lower bills and lower carbon emissions. The advice starts pre-move, considering optimal space utilisation and continues with advice on operating the building and engaging staff to play their part. Achieving the building’s low carbon targets makes the occupier eligible for certification to the Low Carbon Workplace Standard, a new environmental benchmark specifically designed for the workplace.
LCW is a partnership between Carbon Trust, Threadneedle Investments and Stanhope. The Townsend Group has recently made a significant equity commitment to LCW taking the total to £100m.
Katharine Deas, Managing Director of Low Carbon Workplace Ltd, said:
“Low carbon buildings need low carbon occupiers to be able to perform to their design intent in energy efficiency terms. Landlords are often criticised for a ‘let and forget’ mentality, not helping their occupiers reduce their energy costs once they are in the building. We will play an active role in helping our occupiers monitor and reduce their energy usage, cutting their costs and carbon footprint. The Billings not only provides low-carbon office space, it’s a really comfortable, inviting environment to work in.”
Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, said:
“This is a first for the UK property market. The new Low Carbon Workplace model is a win for occupiers through lower energy costs and we believe will drive a huge market for low carbon commercial office space. We see this as a key green growth area which the recent investment from The Townsend Group underlines.”
David Richardson, Divisional Director of Investec Wealth & Investment, said:
“We’re pleased to be pioneers here at The Billings. The support offered by LCW has made our ongoing transition to energy efficiency a smooth process. The Billings’ built-in technology has aided our efforts to reduce our carbon emissions, but I’ve been struck by the difference that minor changes to our work practices have made. For instance, we’ve done away with our under-desk litter bins. Consequently, the amount of rubbish that we throw away has fallen steeply and the amount that we recycle has risen sharply.”
Rob Watts, Development Director and Director of Stanhope, said:
“The completion and letting of our first building marks an important achievement for the Fund. With three other refurbishments well underway and new investors we are now well advanced in establishing an industry norm for low carbon refurbishment and operation.”
Don Jordison, Managing Director of Property at Threadneedle Investments, said:
“Genuine institutional investment coming in to this space provides a clear message – it is about good returns on a good investment which has an environmentally beneficial by-product. Commercial buildings currently account for a fifth of UK’s emissions and such a coordinated approach addressing occupiers and investors’ needs could not have come a moment too soon.”
Ray Crowley, Verdantix analyst and author ofthe 2011 Low Carbon Real Estate Fund Launched in the UK report recognised the LCW model as “the first example of a landlord and tenant proactively engaging on building carbon efficiency performance and an approach that adds value for both parties”.
Non-domestic buildings account for 18% of the UK’s total carbon emissions and 60% of the buildings standing in 2050 (when the country is committed to a 80% reduction in carbon emissions) have already been built.
About The Billings
The Billings provides high specification, energy-efficient office space for up to 200 occupiers. It incorporates an innovative heating and cooling system, lighting and advanced insulation. The Low Carbon Workplace Partnership chose to purchase and refurbish the building in part due to its proximity to transport links, being located opposite Guildford railway station and within walking distance of the town centre.
Some of the building’s key low-carbon features:
The office has ‘active chilled beams’ which use considerably less energy than traditional forms of air conditioning for the same amount of heating and cooling.
Presence detection, automatic controls and high efficiency fittings reduce energy from lighting and fittings near windows will dim whenever there is sufficient daylight.
Walls, slabs and columns have been exposed to maximise the benefit of their high thermal inertia – taking heat from the air during warm periods and so reducing cooling requirements.
False ceilings have been removed exposing the building’s natural high ceilings which allow hot air to rise away from the working space decreasing the need for cooling.
The automated monitoring systems help the occupants identify and deal with areas of waste on a near real-time basis.
Notes to editors:
*Energy Consumption Guide 19, Government’s Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme (typical air-conditioned office performance).
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