UK property owners save £16m in energy costs over five-year period

A collaboration of 28 UK property owners, including Land Securities, Canary Wharf Group and the Crown Estate, has improved the energy efficiency of its built environment portfolio by 25% since 2011, amassing £16m in savings as a result.

Members of the Better Buildings Partnership include British Land and Hammerson who voluntarily provide energy consumption data for more than 7m square metres of the Partnership’s UK-based properties.

Data is used to compile the Real Estate Environmental Benchmark (REEB), the only publicly available performance indicator for the industry. The latest REEB update, released on Wednesday (5 July), revealed that more than 145GWh of energy had been saved since 2011, despite a 71% increase in floor area.

The Better Buildings Partnership’s programme director Sarah Ratcliffe said: “We are delighted to highlight the significant progress made by BBP members in reducing energy consumption across their portfolios.

“Given the significant portfolio ‘churn’ many property owners experience each year it can be challenging to achieve continuous improvements across whole portfolios. And, for those assets retained over longer periods, members have already captured the ‘low hanging fruit’ on poorly performing assets. This makes this progress all the more impressive and demonstrates real leadership and dedication.”

The REEB update revealed that the 25% improvement in energy efficiency was matched by a 24% reduction in like-for-like energy consumption amongst member-owned properties. Money spent on energy use fell by 6% last year, after the members delivered an annual energy consumption reduction of 4.4%.

Despite 171 new properties submitting voluntarily disclosed data for this iteration of the report, the number of properties providing data fell by 5.8% to 587 compared to 2015. The Better Buildings Partnership noted that property owners have sold off smaller properties over the last two data sets, replacing them with larger properties that have recently been purchased.

Hammerson’s head of sustainability and chair of the Partnership Louise Ellison added: “REEB is one of the only initiatives that gathers performance in use data at scale and enables investors and owners to compare their properties against robust benchmarks developed by the industry, for the industry.

“The data is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved through committed industry collaboration. What is also clear though, is that this is not enough. We need to do much more as an industry to address our significant environmental impacts and move from being part of the climate change problem to being part of the solution.”

Earlier this year, Hammerson became the first firm in its sector to launch a pan-European Net Positive strategy covering carbon, resource use and water consumption across internal and tenant operations.

Regulatory backdrop

The reductions were achieved against a backdrop of political uncertainty, which has seen green policy likened to a game of Jenga. MPs are “deeply worried” about gaps between UK climate targets and policy delivery in areas such as the built environment.

Fortunately, the UK Government has moved to strengthen energy-efficiency in the built environment through the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). As of April 2018, landlords are no longer able to lease out commercial office space in buildings with an F or G EPC rating unless a time-limited exemption applies.

That regulation is coupled with external pressure from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), which recently called for every building to be ‘net-zero’ carbon by 2050.

Matt Mace

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