Think Zero: Grosvenor plots pathway to net-zero by 2030

Property developer Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has outlined plans to become a net-zero business by 2030 and earmarked £90m to retrofit and 'future-proof' its portfolio of buildings across London.

Pictured: An artist's impression of Grosvenor's build-to-rent neighbourhood, under development in Berdmonsey 

Pictured: An artist's impression of Grosvenor's build-to-rent neighbourhood, under development in Berdmonsey 

The company’s net-zero target covers emissions from all scopes, and the firm has developed a delivery roadmap called ‘Think Zero’ to help it meet the lofty ambition.

Given that Grosvenor’s historic London estate in Mayfair and Belgravia is its main source of direct emissions, the company is targeting a 70% reduction in annual emissions here by 2030, against a 2019 baseline. It will invest in deep retrofits to make these buildings more energy-efficient, installing things like insulation, low-carbon heating and energy-efficient lighting.

Grosvenor notably manages more than 2,500 units in this area, including 500 Grade I and II listed buildings and structures. It has spent £25m on retrofitting for more than 100 buildings since 2013 and hopes the larger sum will accelerate progress. All managed buildings with tenants will also be transitioned to 100% renewable electricity.

A target has also been set to ensure that all new buildings are net-zero in operational carbon by 2030. Like many businesses in the UK’s built environment sector, Grosvenor is also increasingly focusing on embodied carbon as well. It is aiming for all construction projects to meet a maximum of 500kgCO2e/m2  by 2025

“Emissions from the built environment in Westminster are double the UK average,” Grosvenor’s executive director of sustainability and innovation Tor Burrows said. “In committing £90m to the decarbonisation of our properties in Mayfair and Belgravia we will improve the resilience of our portfolio and the places in which we work.”

Given that the majority (59%) of Grosvenor’s emissions footprint in 2019 was attributable to the supply chain, ‘Think Zero’ includes a new supplier charter. Grosvenor’s overarching aim is for at least 40% of its suppliers, in terms of emissions footprint, to procure 100% renewable electricity within a decade. It is also hoping to support as many suppliers as possible to develop their own science-based targets.

The company has admitted that it will need to use offsetting in some shape or form to meet its new climate targets. It has committed to publishing an offsetting strategy in 2021 and maintaining transparency about the choices it takes to ensure its offsetting method is credible.

British Land

Grosvenor’s announcement comes in the same week that British Land revealed its plans for delivering a net-zero portfolio by 2030 – a target announced back in May.

The company has pledged not to build any developments that are not net-zero carbon in operation going forward. No developments where work began after April 2020 will generate any net operational emissions. British Land will also reduce the operational emissions intensity of its broader portfolio by 75%, investing in retrofitting across its assets.

Additionally, a target has been confirmed to halve the embodied carbon of all developments by 2030. This will bring the portfolio’s average embodied carbon below 500kgCO2e/m2.

To support delivery, British Land has implemented an internal carbon price of £60 per tonne for all new developments. Money raised through this price will be ring-fenced for a Transition Vehicle and spent on retrofitting, research and development and carbon offsetting.

A net-zero blueprint

In related news, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has published a strategic roadmap, designed to act as a blueprint for businesses developing and implementing net-zero strategies.

The blueprint’s key points were developed with input from business and sustainability experts at Unilever, Danone, Ikea, Interface and Lloyds Banking Group.

It provides advice on identifying and embedding people and planet-centric purpose; getting and emissions baseline and developing science-based targets; collaborating for net-zero and advocating for policy change.

The roadmap also encourages readers not to neglect Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, which, for most firms, account for the majority of their carbon footprint. While some tick-box approaches may enable businesses to focus on Scopes 1 and 2, the report states, businesses which fail to decarbonise holistically and rapidly will face the “even more exacting challenge of creating a net negative emissions economy”.

“What we need now is bold and effective leadership which is committed to delivering the transition; leadership that steps up to shape new markets and transition pathways, to establish new norms,” CISL’s executive director of education Lindsay Hooper said. “Delay will only make the size of the challenge greater and the costs of the solutions higher.”

Sarah George



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