Sustainability: zero carbon, low cost

80 Charlotte Street_ London_ UK_(c) Paul Carstairs_Arup1

Source: Paul Carstairs / Arup

To deliver net zero office buildings within conventional cost parameters do we need to be bolder in our approach?

80 Charlotte Street_ London_ UK_(c) Paul Carstairs_Arup1

Source: Paul Carstairs / Arup

The mixed-use scheme by architect Make with Arup as engineer at 80 Charlotte Street is designed to achieve 28% lower embodied carbon intensity than the RICS benchmark, with estimated embodied carbon of 850kg CO2e per m2. It features air-source heat pumps and solar panels to provide heating, cooling and hot water

01 / Introduction

The flurry of corporate net zero announcements around COP26 showed change is accelerating in commercial markets. There is evidence that sustainable buildings already demand a market premium, and as corporations (producers and users of real estate alike) seek a property portfolio aligned with their company commitments, this differential seems set to grow.

This trend is being reinforced by an investor market that is placing ever more importance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and carbon performance. The market’s ability to define, measure and deliver net zero buildings reliably and cost-effectively will be vital.

A UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) study in September 2020 pointed to a cost premium of between 8% and 17% to deliver a building aligned with net zero performance. With aspirations towards net zero carbon featuring in many more project briefs, we are all striving to stretch the performance of development projects towards that net zero carbon goal. It is a mark of how rapidly our response to this challenge is evolving that in December 2021 we are able to demonstrate that net zero is achievable for a typical mid-rise commercial asset at a relatively small cost premium.

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