Landsec and Hammerson are innovating to increase energy efficiency and renewables use in a sector resistant to change
When former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the new London HQ of his global media company last month, the £1bn building was hailed as “the world’s most sustainable office”.
The building, designed by “starchitect” Norman Foster, is ranked outstanding by the BREEAM environmental rating system. Its innovations include bronze blades that can open to allow natural ventilation and smart CO2 sensors to pinpoint areas that need to be heated and cooled at any given time. It also has a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that uses the heat created in generating power to warm the building.
Buildings are one of the world’s biggest sources of CO2 emissions. In the US they account for 40% of energy use, more than any other sector, according to the US Green Building Council. Yet according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 30% of the average energy used in commercial buildings is wasted.
Cutting CO2 emissions in commercial buildings is harder than for other sectors because each individual property emits relatively little. There is also a mismatch between the interests of tenants and owners, with the latter having no incentive to invest in energy-saving and renewables technologies whose benefits...