Naturally, policy and legislation are key drivers. However, a greater understanding of the environmental impacts of the property lifecycle (embedded carbon) amongst stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and investors has put sustainability at the heart of the decision-making process. Sustainability is now a fundamental element of a responsible business strategy – it is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather a key driver for sales and staff retention, making commercial buildings a key focus as far as their contribution to net zero is concerned. Commercial property in particular represents a significant percentage of the UK’s carbon emissions contribution – and while sustainability is at the core of new build constructions, the challenge of retrofitting older buildings is an obvious and separate challenge.
What does all of this mean in terms of the overall value of a building/ cost savings?
What has always been true – and become clearer in recent times – is that decarbonisation measures result in lower operating costs, in particular where heating and cooling are concerned. As a result, it is vital for the logistics sector to identify ways in which it can incorporate low (or zero) carbon features, not just in the operation of their buildings but also during construction, where a significant part of a building’s lifecycle emissions arise
The take-up and awareness of sustainable lifestyles across the world have at last made sustainability adoption a key selling point – at all levels. Subsequently, tenants are more willing to pay more for an environmentally-friendly building, mindful of both their operational savings as well as the increasing need to report on and be accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions
Compared to other commercial real estate sectors, such as offices or retail, logistics has a fantastic opportunity to tackle the climate emergency in two ways. As well as decarbonisation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), logistics often has an ability to increase biodiversity on-site and restore nature. Outside of urban “last-mile” locations, logistics often has access to large sites and has an opportunity to go beyond the expected 10% biodiversity net gain requirement – developers can create ‘wilder’ landscape areas, install green roofs and walls, and create open spaces, all of which is not just good for the natural environment but are beneficial for the wellbeing of occupiers, thus underscoring the sector’s sustainability credentials.
About the author(s)
Ben Stansfield is one the UK's leading lawyers practising planning and environmental law. Ben is based in Gowling WLG's London office and brings with him a wealth of experience advising clients on the consenting and regulation of their projects and their compliance with environmental regulations and reporting standards.