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Landsec targets the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial development

28 July 2020

Landsec, the FTSE-100 property developer, is progressing plans for what aims to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building. The Forge, previously known as 105 Sumner St, SE1, a 139,000 sq ft office development in Southwark aspires to be the first commercial building to be both constructed and operated in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) net zero carbon buildings framework and associated energy performance targets. There is not currently a building in the UK that has been verified in line with UKGBC’s framework that is net zero in both construction and operation. 

Developing a net zero carbon building is a meaningful way of addressing scope 3 emissions - those that are a consequence of a company’s actions, but which occur at sources that the company does not own or control. Construction activities account for a large part of the development industry’s scope 3 emissions and include supply-chain emissions arising from extraction of resources, the manufacturing of products, the transportation of materials and the assembly of a building.

All of Landsec’s future developments will be built to, and operate in line with, UKGBC’s net zero carbon buildings framework.

The Forge will be one of the most innovative construction sites in the capital. Landsec, along with tech-led design practice Bryden Wood, and design development and prototyping company Easi-Space, have together been awarded funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to deliver what will be the world’s first ever office building using a platform-led approach to design and construction.

The platform system, known as P-DfMA (Platform for Design, Manufacture and Assembly), consists of a set of components that can be efficiently combined to produce highly customised structures, enabling different kinds of spaces to be built with just a single 'kit of parts'. The new approach has been identified by the government as essential to the transformation of the construction sector. A trial led by Landsec, Bryden Wood and Easi-Space saw construction productivity improved by 55%, installation time reduced by 30% and cost savings are expected to reach 33% when compared to traditional construction techniques. The result is a structure that uses less material, creates less waste, and has an almost 20% reduction in carbon impact.

Mark Allan, Chief Executive, Landsec, said: “Our target is to be a net zero carbon business by 2030. That means we have to start making changes to the way we do things now. We know that property companies have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency. We’re clear, therefore, that our sustainability strategy must be deeply embedded in our development programme and we will continue to be ambitious in our approach.”

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC, said: “40% of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributable to the built environment and so as a sector, we need to be pursuing aggressive rates of decarbonisation. The Forge is a ground-breaking development and testament to Landsec’s desire to tackle the climate crisis head on. Developers, construction firms, architects and occupiers must start working together at scale to deliver buildings like this that minimise whole life carbon and contribute to meaningful progress in the battle against climate change.”

Sam Stacey, Challenge Director for the Transforming Construction Challenge at UK Research and Innovation, said: “The work that Landsec has achieved in building what aims to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building is an excellent example of the type of projects the UKRI Transforming Construction challenge is looking to support. With its innovative platform technique and 'kit of parts' approach it embodies what the future of construction will be. Such approaches are essential to the transformation of the construction sector. It’s ambitious target to be a net zero carbon business by 2030 reflects the challenge’s aim for the construction sector, with buildings constructed with half the lifetime carbon emissions.”

In November, Landsec became the first UK REIT to align its carbon reduction target to a 1.5°C pathway of global warming. The externally approved science-based target will see Landsec reduce absolute carbon emissions by 70% from a 2014 baseline over the next ten years. In 2016 Landsec became the first property company in the world to adopt a science-based target to tackle emissions and has since launched a five-step plan to become a net zero carbon business by 2030.

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