ESG and sustainability are fast becoming the central focus for every business and with the real estate industry being responsible for 40% of current global carbon emissions, as an industry we have a huge part to play in demonstrating a commitment to ESG and sustainability and to achieving the legislation set by the UK government to be a Net Zero economy by 2050, with an emissions reduction target of 78% by 2035.
We spoke to Richard Clark, Partner at Knight Frank, Leeds who told us that he is now seeing both landlords and tenants beginning to develop strategies to reach net zero by 2030 and 2040. He went on to say that in order to achieve these targets, significant decarbonisation will be required. Knight Frank are already seeing the trend of corporate occupiers committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source.
Despite those government set legislations however, Towngate recognises that it has a responsibility to the environment that goes beyond legal and regulatory factors. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and as part of our business strategy will continually improve our environmental performance, whilst also encouraging our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same.
The list below highlights just some of the ways we are striving to play our part internally, externally and in the buying and refurbishment of our properties: –
· Seek to buy recycled and recyclable products.
· Switch off lights and electrical equipment when not in use.
· Take energy consumption and efficiency of new products into account when purchasing them.
· Favour “green” company vehicles and maintain them vigorously to ensure ongoing efficiency.
· Use materials in any industrial unit/office refurbishment that are as environmentally friendly as possible.
· Incorporate environmental factors into business decisions.
· Increase employee awareness through training.
· Use local labour and materials where available to reduce CO2 and help the community.
When it comes to property, EPC ratings are another key focus and new legislation has been set that sees newly rented properties needing to achieve an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025, and any existing rentals must achieve the same by 2028. Towngate have worked hard over the last couple of years to ensure that all our properties are working towards achieving higher EPC ratings. We are pleased that from a portfolio of over 200 industrial units, the majority have already achieved ratings ranging from A to D.
We have also taken ecological steps towards improving green space within our property portfolio. Where possible, we will create a planted garden verge to all new developments, providing a space to encourage wildlife and create a tranquil area for occupying staff members, this will be aided with the installation, wherever possible, of picnic benches for the space to be enjoyed and to encourage staff wellbeing.
In June 2023 we will be commencing our latest large-scale build of 6 industrial warehouse units in the Walkden area of Manchester. ESG and sustainability will of course be at the centre of the build as we work towards the scheme ensuring a decrease in CO2 emissions over standard building regulations, and as a result, occupational costs to the end user being reduced.
· Modern, thermally efficient, cladding to roof and elevations.
· Highly energy efficient LED lighting.
· EV charging points.
· Aiming for “A” EPC rating.
· Above standard natural daylight gains within warehouse areas.
· Will target a BREEAM – Very Good rating.
· PV solar panels will be installed, offering an additional cost benefit to a tenant.
As previously stated, we are and will continue to work closely with our customers to ensure a synergistic commitment to ESG and sustainability. Below you will find a short insight into just a couple of them and the ways they are showing their commitment.
The company was launched in 2018 by four friends in response to the plastic waste crisis highlighted in Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’. The traditional milk round reuses glass bottles whilst utilising the latest mobile technology to provide a seamless ordering process for its customer base. In 2021 alone, the organisation successfully prevented 19,272,763 plastic bottles from entering landfill and the world’s oceans.
The company have teamed up with the Co-op to provide autonomous grocery delivery using robotic technologies to cities across the UK. As of December 2022, since the robots were first introduced in this country, an estimated 1.1 million miles of car journeys have been saved, with a 445-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions. The service is environmentally friendly in may ways; the robots are zero emission; car journeys to shops are reduced, and it will help to reduce food waster as people can order a small shop of just the ingredients they need.