What about this lot?
While the new-build sector gears up for the 2016 zero-carbon challenge, it is the other 95% of buildings that already exist that will prove a much tougher nut to crack. Tom Idle met with Land Securities Trillium, the UK's largest property manager, to find out what can be done. "There's nothing complicated in managing buildings properly," he is told
Land Securities Trillium, part of the Land Securities Group, is the biggest landlord in the UK, looking after around 2,000 properties. The company even takes care of 10% of all government PFI contracts, so schools, hospitals and universities are now under its wing, as well as office blocks, and its partnerships usually run on 20-25 year leases.
So, what better place to come when asking for advice and best practice on behalf of all of you property managers and owners out there, desperate to reduce your carbon emissions and operate your buildings more efficiently?
Environmental director, Dave Farebrother, is, using his words, a “lifetime prisoner” of Land Securities having been with the company 22 years. Having spent 16 years as an energy manager, his role moved towards more of a total environmental job. And today he looks at all aspects of responsibility – how to comply, reducing impacts and innovating to move the agenda forward across the entire portfolio. “We are the only property development company to have ISO 14001 for all of our development and property management activities,” he proudly tells me.
Norman Greville is the managing director of capital projects at the Group and also has responsibility for the pricing of lifecycle expenditure on new contracts. He joined the business in 1999.
I met up with the pair at the Land Securities Trillium headquarters in London to ask them how they think the environmental impact of the existing building stock should to be tackled, and what advice they had for anyone looking to achieve a low-carbon commercial dwelling. Here’s what they told me.
The efficiency targets we set have to be made with out clients
Dave Farebrother (DF): The targets have to reflect what the client is trying to achieve.
We have PFI energy from waste contracts. We have PFI streetlighting. We have schools, libraries,
hospitals, military bases and blue-chip clients. So, one of the big advantages we have is being able to share knowledge across all of the types of contract we have.
Monitoring energy use is key
Norman Greville (NG): On the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) estate [of which Land Securities looks after all 1,500 or so buildings] we have introduced an initiative on 350 buildings using half-hour meters, so you can see every half hour of the day exactly what the energy consumption has been within that particular building.
It’s been interesting because you’ve been able to highlight various anomalies in the building. You can find out why there has been an energy spike over a weekend, for example. They may have adopted a night time cleaning regime, so the cleaners are leaving the lights on all night.
Move to daytime cleaning
NG: At DWP, we’ve moved to day-time cleaning so the lights don’t come on at night and you work up a methodology for cleaning so staff aren’t disrupted as they go round during the day.
There are also broader environmental benefits now, like people not having to work unsociable hours. It also opens up options for working mothers or single parents. And people don’t have to travel at night.
Change the time clock operational hours
NG: Rather than the heating coming on at 7am, we’ve trialled it to see if turning it on at 8am allows the building to heat up sufficiently enough and whether people are comfortable with that. We wanted to see if we got phone calls to our customer helpdesk with people saying: “It’s too cold, it’s too cold’.
Over time, you can come to a working approach in a building that can save you energy.
Existing buildings are the real problem
NG: When the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) [of which Land Securities is a member] first started up, it was all about new buildings.
So, I said to them, “please bear in mind that 95-99% of what we are dealing with is existing stock. What are we going to do about that?”
One of the things the UKGBC is looking at now is existing buildings and how to save energy. If you can button down on that, it can really make a big difference.
It’s not just about increasing the insulation standards or the air tightness of buildings – although those can be important. It’s about winning the hearts and minds of the occupiers and operators of those buildings.
Poster campaigns make people aware of their impact
NG: In reception areas, I’d like to see something that will show the energy consumption at that moment in time.
DF: We are going to trial this at our own head office to see if it works.
We will be able to display real-time information, showing what the building is doing now, what it’s doing this week and what it is doing this year against targets, so you can see whether the actions you are asking people to take are making a real difference.
It’s all about partnership working and communication
NG: You can put the most sophisticated systems in the world into buildings, but if you don’t tell people how to operate them or how to use buildings properly, you aren’t going to make a difference.
Arguably, you will get systems fighting against themselves. You might get someone in an office that thinks it is cold so he puts the heating on. Then another person across the way thinks its hot so he puts the air conditioning on and you are wasting energy because they are fighting one another.
The industry has historically been very poor at developing a building and then walking away from it – giving a great suite of documents and not showing anybody how to use them. It’s like having a great car with six gears and the person driving it hasn’t been told about the sixth gear.
One of the challenges is data capture
NG: Everyone has got data in a different basis and uses different systems, so you are not comparing apples with apples.
DF: There is another initiative being done through the British Property Federation in conjunction with the British Council for Offices, which is a project called LESTER.
The LES bit stands for the landlord energy statement, so it’s all in conjunction with what is coming in through the building energy labels and energy certificates. They are trying to come up with a standardised way of capturing data.
The TER standards for the tenants energy requirements. The BCO is looking at that bit. So there will be two spreadsheet protocols that basically say, if you use this we can start to compare things.
The working day is changing
NG: There is a lot of extended working hours and what is happening at the moment is that people come in and the whole building is lit up because there is a guy in one corner on the third floor working away.
But you’ve got to say to people, out-of-hours working is going to be conducted on half of the third floor under flexible working. If you are coming in at the weekend, that is where you go and the rest of the building will be in darkness.
It’s about simple measures
DF: The complicated stuff is done when they build the building. The design engineer comes in and puts the CHP [combined heat and power] unit in with all its fancy controls. That’s the clever bit.
The simple bit, although it’s sometimes hard to do, is managing it properly. There is nothing difficult in there. Putting your waste paper in the right bin. That is easy. The hard part is making sure that it always goes in the right bin.
The government has underestimated the scale of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) initiative
DF: Once we knew they [EPCs] were going to be introduced, we were waiting for the legislation to say what we had to do. And even now it’s only just becoming clear.
We don’t think the government has understood quite what they are asking people what to do. They have underestimated the scale of the initiative. For example, they have looked at the number of buildings over 10,000m2 that might be re-let. It’s roughly 300 a year – not a problem, they thought.
But that’s not right, because we are going to want every one of our buildings that is over that threshold ready in case we have to re-let it or sell it. And that’s the same for every other landlord. So it’s not just 300 buildings, it’s probably 30,000 buildings. And they have probably underestimated the number of people that need to be qualified to undertake it.
It goes live in April, so that will be fun to see.
When it comes to technology, it’s a question of finding the right mix
DF: Everyone seems to be looking for the answer. Well, sorry but there isn’t one out there yet.
Small-scale wind – certainly not. Large-scale wind – we all know the problems with that because you can’t cover the whole country with wind farms.
And solar photovoltaics are too expensive and don’t give you enough power.
These technologies have a little part to play. But it’s not a question of which technology, it’s which mix of technologies for which application.
We are starting to see green buildings getting higher rents
NG: With all the corporate governance coming in, it is starting to influence the choice of buildings more. And it’s just started to happen in a real way.
DF: The argument has always been that, how much you pay for your energy is trivial compared to the rent and service charge.
The way to educate people is through the corporate responsibility agenda. People are saying, “our rivals are seen as really green and sustainable and we suffer in comparison. We need to have the same image.”
The obvious example of where that is happening is in high-street retail. They all want to be seen to be leading the agenda.
The future could be the green lease
DF: There is clearly a problem in the UK property market with the traditional lease and how that relates to sustainability.
But we are doing a lot of work on how you come up with a green lease, whatever that might actually be. We don’t know yet but you might be able to have a lease arrangement that promotes good practice.
NG: In a normal lease there is probably a clause in there that states the tenant will not use the building as a brothel, which harks back to the 1800s. But there is nothing in there about the tenant having to be energy conscious. You’ve still got historic clauses about having red lights in the windows – don’t worry about your red lights, worry about having lights on.
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