Motivated by increasing pressure from the government and consumers, sustainability has never been more interlinked with business. The evolution of government policies and consumer approaches has goaded some companies into implementing a green agenda to help lessen their carbon footprint.
With the deterioration of the planet a perpetual ‘hot’ topic, sustainability is becoming the standard, as opposed to a concept which was not deemed essential. Clients are now extremely invested in seeking holistic and sustainable approaches to development and, with building technology continually progressing, sustainability is increasingly accessible.
Many companies have initially started by focusing their sustainability operation on their own doorstep, concentrating on the environmental competence of their current or prospective commercial property. Some businesses have been giving their commercial properties ecological facelifts by upgrading to energy-efficient lighting systems or smart power meters. Others, however, elect to relocate to new premises that have been constructed with sustainability at the core of their design.
Given that 70% of investors consider the environmental impact of property to be a crucial aspect of their investment decision, businesses should consider the tangible benefits of a move to sustainable property. Understanding the financial and social advantages of the green trend is crucial for developers seeking to gratify the mounting demand for commercial property.
One of the most significant benefits of sustainable property is cost-effectiveness, harnessing new technology and innovations to decrease operational expenditures. It has been suggested that businesses which manage their social and environmental impact on the world have superior financial performance.
When companies are considering new commercial premises, it is vital that the sustainable performance of the building is analysed to reduce costs further down the line. This trend has particularly escalated over the past few years due to market demands that necessitated cost reductions while emerging from the recession.
BREEAM is the world’s leading environmental rating and assessment tool for buildings, master planning and infrastructure. Receiving the highest score under their sustainable design scheme, One Angel Square, Manchester, is a 14-storey commercial property. The Co-Operative Group unveiled its headquarters at this location in 2014 and the property uses half the energy and 80% less carbon monoxide than the company’s previous premises. Financially, The Co-Operative Group has reduced its operational costs by a third.
Marks & Spencer is another environmentally conscious company which transferred to a more sustainable existence. The retailer constructed 200 ecologically friendly factories, saving the business £50 million in costs.
In the capital, Camden Council was struggling under long-term financial implications. Re-locating to new headquarters in Pancras Square enabled them to be able to achieve long-term financial savings whilst also being environmentally friendly.
Cost-effectiveness aside, many companies choose to relocate to a sustainable headquarters due to customer behaviour and demand. A report conducted by global information and measurement company Nielsen found that 55% of online consumers were more likely to spend their money with businesses dedicated to environmental welfare. Due to this, companies are progressively keen to demonstrate corporate and social responsibility by acknowledging environmental issues and showing ethical commitment as part of their brand’s mantra.
Handmade cosmetics retailer and popular high street haunt Lush has an impeccable green policy championed by consumers who favour the company for its recyclable packaging, ethical campaigns and bold stand against animal testing. With over 700 stores worldwide and an ever-emerging global presence, Lush’s brand ethic (as well as its products) has led to increasing global brand sales of $720 million in 2014, $870 million in 2015, and a predicted $1 billion by the end of 2016 – this figure does not include online sales.
With sustainability and planet welfare not only being important but becoming exceedingly trendy, moving staff to a sustainable commercial property can have a positive impact on staff morale and recruitment. A division of recruitment site Monster, MonsterTRAK, conducted research that revealed 92% of young people would rather be employed by an environmentally aware company. Companies are supporting this by locating themselves in buildings with features to attract and retain talent.
Colloquially referred to as The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe in London is home not only to the most recognisable structure on the London skyline, but one of the most environmentally friendly too. The cone structure of the building maximises natural light and ventilation which allows the skyscraper to function on half the energy of a similarly sized tradition office. Furthermore, the structure uses gas fuel and encourages employees to go green by cycling to work, with extensive bike storage on site.
As environmental concerns become more prevalent, in both the public and corporate worlds, the number of businesses becoming aware of the benefits of sustainable commercial property is increasing. For developers and investors, this demand for eco properties offers a multitude of opportunities as properties which do not meet these heightened criteria are missing out.