Cost model: London office refurb

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With a lower carbon impact than new-build and the potential for repurposing existing stock into attention‑grabbing schemes, refurbishment is more than ever a serious prospect for London developers

01 / Introduction

With London’s mayor declaring a climate emergency at the end of 2018 and nearly two-thirds of London boroughs unveiling strategies to drive down emissions, awareness of the negative effects of climate change is growing across the UK capital. Construction – a ubiquitous presence in the city – is drawing attention due to the high carbon impact of new-build schemes, particularly where these replace existing buildings.

Demolishing buildings creates a massive amount of waste and, if not managed properly, generates noise and air pollution. The materials needed for new construction, such as concrete and steel, have large carbon footprints due to the processes used to manufacture and transport them. In all, the sector accounts for nearly half of UK emissions.

It is understandable, then, that refurbishment continues to gain traction. Why not upgrade and add value to what you already have, generating far less waste and using fewer materials, instead of knocking a building down and starting again from scratch?

The draft London Plan’s commitment to circular economy principles and the London Energy Transformation Initiative’s (LETI) drive to a net-zero carbon-built environment are helping make the case for more sustainable development. Developers and building owners are also fielding a growing number of queries from occupiers about their properties’ environmental impact and credentials.

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