The Greening of Offices; the Environmental Sustainability of Office Developments Is Now One of the Most Important Factors to Developers and Occupiers. North East Property Experts Explain Why

Article excerpt

IT is clear that more environmentally efficient and sustainable offices make financial sense - to occupiers, investors and developers alike.

Increasingly stringent legislation remains a key driver towards forcing office buildings to be more sustainable, combined with increasing commitments towards corporate social responsibility by businesses.

Demand among occupiers for more sustainable offices is increasing. Surveys conducted by GVA show that office occupiers recognise the benefits of such buildings and would even be prepared to pay more for them.

The Environmental Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has been key in driving further demand for energy efficiency, particularly through the introduction in 2008 of Energy Performance Certificates.

The Building Research Establishment's Environment Assessment Method (Breeam) is the most efficient benchmark of sustainability of office buildings that exists in the UK.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that the slight premium in build costs associated with the delivery of sustainable offices more than pays for itself over time.

CHANGES Tony Wordsworth Evidence is emerging that the asset performance of more sustainable offices is stronger than that of offices built to minimum standards.

Such buildings should carry a lower risk premium and experience reduced obsolescence, translating into higher rents, stronger rental growth and higher capital values.

Property directly accounts for close to half of UK emissions and indirectly accounts for a large part of transport emissions. The spotlight is increasingly on the property industry to become more energy-efficient and sustainable.

There is a raft of legislative and policy requirements and more will inevitably be introduced in the not-too-distant future.

Sustainable offices are not just good for the environment - the legislative pressures combined with increasing awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in business practices is rapidly making an economic case for sustainable offices beyond simply a moral one.

Sustainable office development and refurbishment makes financial sense for occupiers, developers and investors alike.

A Breeam assessment currently provides the best means to rubber stamp the sustainability credentials of an office in the UK and can be applied for both new-builds and refurbishments. This environmental benchmark is particularly useful given the continued absence of energy performance certificates, although it assesses a much wider range of factors beyond energy including ecology, transport and health/wellbeing.

Some of the key features of the building design currently under review include the built form and orientation, fabric specification, natural/mixed mode ventilation and external/internal shading. Services include rainwater harvesting, the application of renewable technologies including solar water heating and small-scale wind turbines. …