Property is responsible for nearly 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions and accounts for approximately 20% – 30% of an organisation’s operating costs (the second highest business cost after wages).
There is an explicit link between people, space, energy, cost, and carbon. People generate demand for space, which in turn increases energy consumption and costs. This also increases carbon emissions from the energy and water consumed and the transport used to travel to and from the workplace. A comprehensive approach to all these inter-related issues can count significantly towards addressing sustainability and efficiency.
From the original strategy, through to acquisition of new buildings or space, the design process, determining capital projects, and the responsible occupation and management of facilities, there is an opportunity to embed sustainability at each stage of the property lifecycle. ‘Sustainable estates’ combines financial, environmental and social issues to deliver best value and maximise operational efficiency.
Carbon has become a key proxy for assessing how a property or organisation is performing. It is therefore essential to integrate carbon management within an overall estate sustainability strategy.
A carbon management plan sets the direction for an organisation and identifies key actions to improve performance across the estate and operations. This will include a Carbon Action Plan which provides detailed information on how to reduce and manage carbon at specific properties. Recommendations should be based on full life cycle carbon footprint assessment including cost benefit analysis, with carbon savings identified and the indicative payback period on the investment determined.
The Sustainable Estate Strategy integrates social, financial and environmental objectives into the strategic estates planning process, considering both business and space requirements, together with their impacts on natural resources and people.
Sustainability is embedded within the strategy and the decision making process throughout– from defining the strategic objectives, evaluating estate constraints and opportunities, measuring and reporting performance, and generating and appraising options. The Sustainable Estate Strategy provides a comprehensive approach to maximising efficiency, cost and carbon savings whilst simultaneously optimising business and operational performance.
The principles of sustainability can be incorporated into the option appraisal process and development of business cases, including the assessment of buildings based on financial, quality, and environmental factors, to the consideration of embedded carbon in the evaluation of options. Whole-life costing which takes proper account of external risks is also an important approach so that the ‘true’ costs and benefits of estate options are assessed.