SJ Berwin commercial retrofit breakfast

(left to right) Shashi Narayanan - HOK, Jon Lovell - Deloitte, Janet Kidner - Lend Lease, Angus Evers and Simon Ricketts -SJ Berwin

During GreenSkyThinking week, Footprint attended a breakfast talk hosted by international solicitors SJ Berwin. The event took place in their rooftop ‘Winter Garden’ in the company’s new offices at 10 Queen Street Place in the City. Among the 30 people attending were professionals from Davis Langdon, Willmott Dixon, Cushman & Wakefield, and John Robertson Architects. The talk explored the factors for success behind commercial retrofit exemplars.

Simon Ricketts, SJ Berwin Partner and UK Head of Real Estate introduced the speakers: Angus Evers, Real-Estate Partner at SJ Berwin, Janet Kidner - Head of Sustainability UK, Lend Lease, Shashi Narayanan - Head of Sustainability, HOK, and Jon Lovell - Head of Sustainability at Drivers Jonas Deloitte.

Angus Evers talked about the Legal Sector Alliance, an environmental group of legal firms, which ‘work collaboratively to take action on climate change by reducing their carbon footprint and adopting environmentally sustainable practices’. He then went on to talk about the sustainable features implemented by SJ Berwin in their 10 Queen St. Place office after the refurbishment of the building by John Robertson Architects; interior design HOK International/Seth Stein Architects. He explained that 88% of waste now goes for recycling with 10% to a waste to energy facility and 2% to an anaerobic digestion plant. The company’s carbon footprint related to business travel is still high.

Janet Kidner pointed out that CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and DECs are effective drivers for the retrofitting of commercial buildings. Measures adopted by  Lend Lease as part of their sustainability agenda are: measuring the carbon footprint, both of the company and of their construction sites, promoting zero waste to landfill, using centralised recycling, using low energy systems (such as chilled beams), and engaging staff.

Shashi Narayanan talked about the importance of ‘building bridges between occupants and owners’. He also noted an increased emphasis on embodied carbon and sourcing of materials, and as well as the need to take advantage of different energy profiles in mixed use developments. Sashi stressed the importance of retrofit, as a way to ‘layer current technologies onto existing buildings’.

Shashi Narayanan, HOK; photo: Mark Shenley

Jon Lovell talked about the shift of emphasis from design targets to actual building performance amongst the investment community, commenting that poorly performing buildings could run a greater risk of depreciation in market value. He also mentioned the Low Carbon Workplace partnership which collaborates with occupiers to minimise their carbon emissions and obtain the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Workplace Standard.

Jon Lovell, Deloitte; photo: Mark Shenley

Summing up, the talk highlighted the need of getting both investor and occupant interested in sustainability. Issues such as carbon emissions associated with business travel still need to be tackled. This can be replaced by video-conferencing, but it is difficult to avoid when face-to-face meetings are requested by clients.

This particular GreenSkyThinking event tackled sustainability issues from a commercial workplace standpoint and is indicative of Open-City’s ability to engage with a broad audience. It also suggested that a sustainable lifestyle may very well start in the office, although, as one of the speakers pointed out, engaging staff that have legal training means that measures to remove desk recycle bins or to turn off the computer daily may be met with a request to respect individual rights.

by Diana Dina, AJ sustainability intern

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