Twelve months after the last BCO conference, the issues dominating thinking in our market – climate change and sustainability within the built environment – remain the same.
What is different is the additional challenge of economic change.
The big question is whether these issues can be managed simultaneously by the property industry. Or, will sustainability aspirations be sacrificed in the face of economic retrenchment?
Nobody would venture that the next few months are going to be easy. Occupiers will find the going tough, as financial, occupational and environmental factors all hit home. Far from abandoning the green agenda, now is the time to embrace sustainability as the way forward.
To build to the highest specification and aim for environmental excellence will ensure the long-term success – and lifespan – of an office building. Developers of such buildings will therefore have a prize asset for many years to come, welcomed by planners and the community, and sought after by occupiers and investors alike.
The market should use the slowdown to ‘design up’ the offices of the future and create longer-term, higher-quality space
However unwelcome, the turbulent market conditions have given us the gift of time – something that has been lacking in the ‘gold rush’ market.
A temporary softening in office take-up in some parts of the market should allow investors and developers to take a longer-term view of the product they are creating.
The market should – where it can – use the slowdown to ‘design up’ the offices of the future and create higher-quality space that will stand the test of time.
A changing economic terrain might also bring about improved dialogue between office providers and occupiers. Occupiers, as we know, have become far more sophisticated in their requirements and expect high performance from their accommodation. By listening to their views and collaborating closely, office providers can create better working environments, to the benefit of all.
Nick Ridley, senior vice-president of the British Council for Offices and chairman of the 2008 BCO conference
Skyline - 06 June 2008
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What a difference a year makes