Commercial Property Sector Warned Over Net Zero

The UK commercial property sector has been warned that it needs to do more to make sure buildings are retrofitted in order to reduce carbon emissions and help achieve net zero targets.

A study by professional services firm JLL has found that six of the UK’s main economic centres need to do much more to make sure they hit sustainable targets for commercial property.

The report said the Thames Valley, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds regions are on course to fall short of their targets, despite Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff aiming to achieve net zero by 2030 and Manchester and Leeds seeking to do so by 2038.

It said that 90 per cent of commercial property in these regions is not on course to meet the government target for all non-residential buildings to have an Energy Performance Certificate Level of B by 2030.

While Hull is not named – it is a smaller economic area than these centres – those investing in the city will need to take into account the same targets and be ready to invest in measures to retrofit their premises.

Investors are, however, keen to take on this responsibility, according to JLL’s head of regional office agency Jeff Pearey. He commented: “Investors are driving the agenda, with two thirds prioritising the sustainability of the portfolio more so than they have done in the past 12 months.”

The issue of retrofitting existing commercial properties to make them greener may be more of a priority in the future, as architects are increasingly coming to the view that the construction industry should be looking to renovate instead of demolishing and replacing old buildings, as this process releases embedded carbon.

Trade magazine Architect’s Journal has launched a RetroFirst campaign aimed at shifting the priority from rebuilding towards refurbishment. It has gained the support of hundreds of practices in the industry and 14 Turner Prize winners.

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