Grosvenor West End London
Grosvenor's London estate includes 1,500 protected listed buildings

Grosvenor makes net zero pledge

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Nicholas Fearn

Grosvenor has become the latest in a series of developers and investors to announce plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions from its buildings, setting a bold target of 2030.

The aim date is sooner than the 2050 goal set last year by the World Green Building Council, whose members include Berkeley Group, BAM Construct, Hoare Lea and Bruntwood.

Grosvenor said it will:

Become zero carbon:

  • By 2030, the Great Britain + Ireland business will achieve net zero carbon operational emissions from all its directly managed buildings, including listed buildings
  • Rport on, and seek to significantly reduce, the carbon emissions embodied in its supply chain, developments and tenant activity by 2030
  • The business’ portfolio, including 147 acres of public realm on its London estate, will aspire to be climate positive by 2050

Become zero waste

  • GBI will eradicate all waste from buildings and developments in its control by 2030
  • By working with customers and stakeholders, the business will aspire to eliminate waste from communities where it operates by 2050

Value nature

  • By 2030, GBI’s portfolio will have achieved a significant net biodiversity gain, responding to the need to halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife and restore ecosystems
  • The business will fully map the materials in its supply chain by 2025 to ensure sustainable provenance
  • GBI aspires to be water neutral by 2050

Craig McWilliam, CEO of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, which has assets of £5.3bn, said recent events had reinforced a view that companies need to have a wholesale rethink of how they use their influence to halt the worsening impacts of climate change.

He said: “As one of London’s largest property companies and with a growing business bringing forward large scale housing developments, we recognise the far-reaching impact a change in our behaviour can have.

“While we are on track to halve carbon emissions on our London estate by 2023, many of the tools and technologies needed to help us meet these targets are yet to be developed and tested. To be successful, our commitments will require us to work collaboratively and innovate. Through these targets and by working with our supply chain and tenants we can, for example, stimulate the design, construction and operation of zero carbon neighbourhoods at scale.”

The UK Green Building Council recently published a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve the standard in construction and building operation.

Ground source heat pumps, heat recovery systems re-using warm air inside buildings, smart meters to reduce energy use and electric vehicle charging points are some of the ways property companies are cutting demands on fossil fuels to slash carbon emission.

Tom Carr, founder of zero carbon housebuilder Verto Home, said: “We believe developers should be looking at the long-term cost savings these methods will provide, so as not to cheat on energy efficient systems and installing them from the outset. The Government would do well to bring in more measures in the future to encourage smart energy consumption. We have to start thinking more creatively about how we generate and reuse energy and take steps to implement these methods more widely.”

Edward Hanrahan, chairman of Climate Care, a consultancy which advises large organisations on cutting carbon, said there has been significant progress in technology, materials and processes to reduce the footprint of new developments. “Likewise, the fact that so many developers are taking into account the ongoing emissions from habitation of the dwellings is also encouraging,” he added.

“However, despite these measures, the construction process itself has an environmental impact which is challenging to reduce. Furthermore, construction companies often have significant offsite emissions associated with their other business activities, such as company flights and office energy use.”

For Hanrahan, developers who are committed to making a real difference need to take responsibility for the carbon emissions embodied in the construction process.

“They will also need to offer options to their customers to take responsibility for the emissions associated with the ongoing use of their homes and buildings,” he continued.

“After they have reduced their emissions as far as possible, they can then fund emission reduction projects to offset the remainder of their footprint. This is the only way to make a development truly carbon neutral or Net Zero. Going beyond CO2e, larger scale office developers can look at the health and clean air impacts of the properties they operate – perhaps by implementing air purification measures such as Green Walls.”

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