It’s not easy being green

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Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing businesses today and the government is getting tough on carbon emissions in the belief that unless it hurts in the pocket businesses will not change.

Ben Hunter of Lambert Smith Hampton says: “Until very recently [green]legislation has revolved around new build, with increasingly onerous building regulations and other occupier liabilities. However, as the majority of buildings in the UK are old properties, this legislation has proved ineffective in tackling environmental issues. But Part L of the Building Regulations, which is roll out this year, will undoubtedly change things.”

Part L will have an impact in reducing energy expended by all buildings in terms of heating, cooling and any internal processes. Buildings will be graded from A through to F. These measures aim to improve energy efficiency standards by 40 per cent to limit carbon emissions and provide incentives for low and zero carbon initiatives. Simon Cullimore of King Sturge says: “It is important that all property developers, funders, investors and owners start to consider this [Building Regulations Part L and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives] now as it will have an impact on property valuations.

“A poor energy performance rating is likely to have a significant negative impact on a property and could result in a decline in values for outmoded, inefficient buildings and lead to a two-tier property market. If this happens it will create, for the first time, a link between the value of a commercial property and its green credentials.”

“While the proposed Energy Performance Certificates are, at first glance, a further administrative burden on owners and occupiers,” says Cullimore, “they should also spur on improvements to existing stock and lead to the development of more efficient buildings.

“This could result in tangible benefits including an increase in asset value, lower running costs and higher productivity levels. Owners, occupiers and investors need to plan ahead now. Ignoring these proposals could prove highly costly when they become mandatory in a few years,” warns Cullimore.

Jonathan Fenton Jones of Gazeley has been working with clients to retrofit environmental technology to clients’ existing portfolios. He says: “[Clients] use the same suite of technology, which we are using on new builds such as recycling of materials where they will use recyclable rather than non; then there’s the use of micro energy technology such as wind turbines, storm water capture, solar photo voltaics and solar hot water; in terms of retro fit package there are a dozen different types.”

The two single biggest carbon emitters within distribution warehouses come from lighting and heating, he says. “There are plenty of lighting technologies that are emerging leading to fluorescent light fixings that have a life span of some 60,000 hours.”

Lisa Fitch of Atisreal agrees and adds: “People are spending more time/money on their offices being green at the moment than they are refitting their distribution facilities. I believe however that you will see that alter if this new proposed “green” rating system goes into effect and it hits their pockets.”

However, she says: “From an existing perspective, companies are trying to work it from the inside out. First of all they are doing the relatively easy, low cost things such as encouraging alternate commuting options, recycling both office and canteen waste, changing to less bulky/wasteful packaging and so on.

Stuart Parton of RPS Burks Green says: “We’ve been working with Ikea for the past nine years. Even three or four years ago we were incorporating ground source heat pumps and bio-fuel burners into designs for distribution centres for them.”

Parton believes that there is a definite shift towards sustainable thinking, “partly as a result of legislation like Part L of the Building Regulations, and Planning Authorities demanding sustainability statements as part of planning applications.

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