VIDEO: How Landsec is achieving a sustainable future for the built environment

This brand new series of video interviews showcases the sustainability superheroes who are achieving 'Mission Possible' for their business. First up: Landsec's head of sustainability Caroline Hill explains how the property developer is working to achieve a sustainable future for the built environment.

This new series of videos is the latest extension of Mission Possible, edie’s new campaign for 2018 which seeks to empower and inspire sustainability, energy and resource efficiency professionals to achieve a sustainable future for their business.

The five-part series will hear from a selection of sustainability leaders from some of the UK’s biggest businesses. Each leader will discuss how they and their team are taking bold actions in one of the five Mission Possible campaign pillars: Energy, Resources, The Built Environment, Mobility, and Business Leadership.

In the above video, Hill discusses how the UK’s largest commercial property development and investment company is demonstrating industry leadership in driving sustainability for the built environment. 

“The real estate sector is responsible for a third of the world’s resources, so it’s crucial that as a sector we really get on top of that,” says Hill. 

“We’ve set a really ambitious carbon reduction target and looking forward we really need to collaborate with others in our sector. This is how we can achieve a sustainable built environment. This is Mission Possible.”

MISSION POSSIBLE: Five ways Landsec is achieving a sustainable future for the built environment

1) Setting a science-based target. Last year, Landsec became the first property firm to have an emissions target aligned to climate science approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). This industry-leading target aims to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

2) Investing in onsite solutions. Landsec recently fitted 2,902 solar panels atop the White Rose shopping centre – the biggest photovoltaic (PV) system at any retail site in the country. The property firm is also a member of The Climate Group’s RE100 and EP100 campaigns, the latter of which has seen the firm pledge to double its energy productivity within 20 years.

3) Focusing on enhancing health and wellbeing. In December 2016, Landsec moved its office headquarters to 100 Victoria Street, where the above video was shot. In making this move, the firm championed active working conditions to improve staff health and wellbeing through the WELL Standard, which aims to transform the indoor environment by placing health and ‘wellness’ at the centre of design and construction.

4) Actively exploring the financial risks of climate change. As part of the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Landsec has been researching the possible impacts of climate change on its portfolio up to the year 2100, using best and worst-case climate change scenarios. The company is beginning to use the findings of these assessments to improve acquisitions, building designs and operational efficiencies across the business.

5) Willing to collaborate for the greater good. Alongside the aforementioned RE100 and EP100 commitments, Landsec is part of numerous collaborative forums to help share best practice across a range of industries to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon business model. This includes working with other commercial property owners to enhance sustainability in the sector through the Better Buildings Partnership and the UK Green Building Council.

All of the video interviews within this Mission Possible series will appear here

Achieve YOUR Mission Possible at edie Live 2018

Landsec’s head of sustainability Caroline Hill is among the expert speakers that will be discussing how to achieve Mission Possible on the keynote stage at edie Live 2018.

Taking place on 22-23 May 2018 at the NEC Birmingham, visitors will be inspired by thought-leaders, coached by industry experts, encouraged to collaborate with your peers, and shown the way by hundreds of innovative suppliers and solutions providers.

Find out more about the show and register for your free pass here.

Luke Nicholls & Matt Mace

Comments (2)

  1. Niall Enright says:

    Hi Caroline,

    I want to pick up on one point in what is otherwise a great demonstration of commitment to sustainability…

    I am assuming that your claim to procure 100% Renewable Energy is achieved by buying "ordinary" energy which have REGOs attached (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin), rather than by paying the actual cost of the generation (ROCS/FITS/CFDs) which are borne by all electricity consumers.

    If this is the case, then the aspiration for the procurement of 100% renewable to "contribute to the 2 oC warming target" could be misplaced – in fact it could actually undermine action on climate change and open up Landsec to possible criticisms, for reasons I want to explain here.

    One way of thinking about these REGOs is as follows. It is as if my neighbour made a charity contribution of 10 to a cause and I then "bought" the rights to claim this donation exclusively for myself from the charity concerned for just a few pence and published this good deed in my annual report as if it was mine.

    The fact is that REGOs are not an indication that renewable electricity has been made possible by an organisation – they are merely indications that a given amount of renewable electricity has been *_delivered_* to a user. The "good deed" of creating that renewable electricity in the first place was done by all electricity consumers users who paid the "green levies" on their bills.

    REGOS, as you know, cost between zero and a few pence per MW – nothing like the cost of creating new renewable generation capacity. I have seen no evidence that they do anything to expand the market despite claims by proponents to the contrary. European REGOS are dominated by very low cost certificates from Scandinavian countries who have large hydro generation and this is one reason that they have been banned in Germany.

    Furthermore, claiming emissions reductions by acquiring REGOs is incompatible with "PAS 2050:2011 Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services (2011)", and so I would urge Landsec to use the "location method" of the GHG Protocol rather than the flawed "market method" which allows organisations to claim these reductions as if they are responsible for them.

    This issue with the reporting standard is because the reduction in emissions in generation is recorded in a decreased average grid factor for all UK energy users (who after all paid for this) which invalidates the same emissions reductions being claimed again by individual organisations (see of the Standard). Claiming these reductions as one’s own using the market method is quite simply double-counting and misleading (despite the Protocol allowing this).

    Why is this important? Another way to think of REGOS is as permits to pollute – they enable the buyers to sidestep their responsibility to reduce emission. Claims of 100% renewable electricity use have potentially a negative effect on the real objective of reducing absolute CO2 emissions – they enable organisations to give the impression that they – through their own actions – have dramatically lowered their own emissions and so it takes the pressure off concerted efforts on efficiency such as implementing ISO 50001, which takes real effort.

    The practical test is what effect REGOs and statements of 100% renewable energy use have on progress in addressing climate change?

    I would say REGOS and the whole RE100 movement represent a negative influence as they a) add nothing to new renewable energy generation (at least I have seen no peer-reviewed evidence of this) and b) give the illusion that an organisation is addressing climate change thereby reducing the pressure on them to take responsibility for their emissions.

    I was at a recent summit here in Manchester where Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester stated that at present rates we will "spend" our carbon budget to meet 2oC warming in just 7 years. There is a real need for urgency in our response.

    Clearly because of these issues, there is also a reputational risk if an organisation were ever seen to be "gaming" the system, which is why I have always advised my clients to steer well clear from "easy" renewable energy claims and instead focus on making real and deep cuts to emissions in their own operations.

    On a similar note, I would also urge caution on "science-based" targets (a meaningless term which implies that no other targets have science behind them). I am assuming that the 80% you quote is the goal for the UK economy as a whole – much of which will have nothing to do with Landsec, but will be a product of the wider decarbonisation of electricity generation, transport, land-use, dematerialisation of goods and services, and so forth.

    Indeed over half the 80% is likely to be achieved by other organisations decarbonisation of your supplies – not something that Landsec (or any other property company) can or should claim for itself (unless you wish to be open to accusations of being "free riders").

    This concept of only taking credit for what you have actually influenced is called "additionality" amongst sustainability practitioners and while not in the public parlance it is nevertheless important for folks who want to establish themselves as leaders to be aware of this test of claims.

    A much more relevant "scientific" target is the Committee on Climate Change’s sectoral target for the UK commercial property sector. If you achieve (or, indeed, exceed) these targets then you are truly making your contribution to the overall goal of 80% across the UK economy.

    I appreciate the desire to take a leadership position on Climate Change, which is to be applauded. Other initiatives such as the EP100 and placing solar panels on your buildings will have a real impact on the only measure that counts – absolute CO2 emissions. My observations, made in a personal capacity, are not offered as criticisms but as a perspective on what I believe leadership in this complex area requires, borne out of some experience but without a claim to know all the answers!

    So that you may calibrate my comments, you may be interested to know that I have over 25 year’s experience leading large climate change teams in several major UK consultancies, I am a Fellow of the Energy Institute, a Chartered Energy Manager and am passionate about helping organisations to recognise the risks around climate change and getting them to respond effectively. I have recently written a comprehensive book "Energy and Resource Efficiency without the tears – the complete guide to delivering value and sustaining change in organisations", available free of charge as a PDF at

    All the best with you efforts, I would be delighted to engage further with you on these topics should you wish, and to be corrected/challenged on any of the points above.

    Niall Enright
    BA, MA (Cantab), FEI, CEM

  2. Niall Enright says:

    The 10 in the 4th para of the comment above is, of course GBP10 but the pound sign was stripped off!

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