Friday, 11 August 2017

A business plan

British Land has won four CIBSE Building Performance Awards in the last five years, most recently for energy efficiency improvements to its property portfolio. With entries open for the 2018 AwardsSara Kassam, CIBSE’s Head of Sustainability Development, sets out to understand why energy efficiency is so important to the property company.

When British Land won the Client Energy Management category at the 2012 CIBSE Building Performance Awards the property company had achieved a 15% reduction in like-for-like landlord energy use across its office and retail properties and was targeting a 20% reduction in energy intensity per square metre across its entire portfolio.

Five years on and British Land won the Test of Timecategory at this year’s CIBSE Building Performance Awards for continued energy performance. It won this accolade for a 40% portfolio-wide reduction in carbon intensity (scope 1 and 2) relative to 2009 levels, a 38% reduction in landlord energy use and its 2020 target to cut energy intensity by 55% - all while increasing focus on the wellbeing and productivity of people in its buildings.

York House in London is part of the British land portfolio 
British Land’s impressive energy performance improvements are the result of its Energy Efficiency programme. Over the last four years, the programme has resulted in occupiers saving a total of £13 million, cut carbon emissions and helped position British Land’s portfolio to meet forthcoming climate regulations.

The programme came about in 2009 in response to emerging occupier interest in energy efficient spaces, anticipating future demand.  What’s exciting at the moment, having shown we can deliver on energy efficiency, is occupiers’ growing interest in other aspects of sustainability, particularly wellbeingsays Matthew Webster, justifying his job title as Head of Wellbeing and Futureproofing at British Land.

“The work we’ve done on smart management of energy has given us a unique understanding of how data can provide management insights and be used to improve the environment for the people in the building,” he says. “At a basic level this includes optimising lighting levels, air quality and temperatures for both efficiency and wellbeing; we’re now applying the same proactive approach we used on energy to enhance our buildings for wellbeing and productivity”.

The British Land team collect their Test of Time Award at the
2017 CIBSE Building Performance Awards
Eight years on and Webster says he’s still having discussions with potential occupiers about energy. “I’ve had lots of conversations before people move into a building about how it is going to perform from an energy perspective,” he says. However, energy efficiency is now “a hygiene factor” that occupiers simply expect rather than a differentiator:  “Our proactive approach to energy efficiency has contributed to the attractiveness of our buildings, helping attract occupiers and keep existing occupiers with us,” he says.

The increased focus on energy is also about British Land facing increased scrutiny from commercial investors with ethical and environmental requirements forming part of their investment criteria. “There is increasing scrutiny and requirements from investors to report on portfolio efficiency via things like carbon disclosure,” Webster explains.

So what has British Land done to reduce its landlord energy consumption by 38%? It is a combination of active energy management, transparency on energy consumption, up-skilling of building engineers and energy efficiency retrofits.

The digital strategy around energy management was an important part
of British Land's success

British Land uses Broadgate Estates to operate and manage its buildings. “It is the Broadgate Estates teams managing our buildings who’ve made the biggest difference by changing their culture so that every property manager and engineer prioritises energy efficiency and wellbeing in everything they do,” Webster explains.

The 55% target energy intensity reduction across the portfolio was selected as being a target that was “challenging” but at the same time realistic for property teams he says. “We will be able to get to it; since 2009, we’ve got a much better understanding of what can be achieved,” he says.

Interestingly, Webster says that saving energy is not simply a matter of return on investment. “There is lots that we can do that doesn’t need capital invested, once smart metering is installed it is about managing the building as efficiently as possible”.

Almost 90% of British Land’s entire portfolio is now covered by smart meters. “Our property teams have access to energy data in 15-30 minute slots so that they can see when plant is running when it shouldn’t be and take necessary action,” he says. “In the past systems would have turned on a chiller at 5am regardless of whether it is needed, now we manage what we’ve got in a more efficient way,” he adds. In addition, off-site specialists also monitor data for offices to identify additional energy efficiency opportunities.

British Land have access to up-to-the-minute energy data via smart meters
which cover 90%of their portfolio
Other free and low-cost interventions introduced by British Land include:
    Installing daylight sensors to reduce lighting levels in line with increased daylight
    Ensuring equipment and lighting are always turned off outside working hours
    Eliminating heating and cooling plant conflicts by ensuring there is a dead-band between when the heating turns off and the cooling kicks in
    Increasing the use of ‘free’ cooling during the day when outside temperatures are below internal temperatures and also using outside air at night to remove residual heat from offices.

To see how well it is performing against over developers, British Land benchmarks with the wider industry through initiatives such as the Better Buildings Partnership and, surprisingly, Australia. “We’re particularly interested in Australian buildings because they have NABERS [National Australian Built Environment Rating System] and compliant buildings seem to be performing better than the UK market in energy performance,” Webster says. In fact, over half of all Australian commercial office buildings are now covered by the scheme and, on average, have increased energy efficiency by 12%. Importantly from British Land’s perspective, the  Australian market is now rewarding investment in energy efficient design for buildings with a high NABERS rating by higher asset values and lower occupant vacancies.

British Land’s benchmarking initiative is not confined to existing buildings, it also sets out to benchmark its new buildings to make these as energy efficient as it can. For this exercise, British Land uses CIBSE Technical Memoranda 54 to set the performance targets for its new buildings. This guidance enables the design team to evaluate operational energy use more fully, and accurately, at the design stage “You do the modelling with the design team and then you use those benchmarks to give the designers an energy target to work towards,” explains Webster. Currently TM54 is being used on eight new buildings. “Once we’ve achieved 80% occupancy we’ll invite the design team back in for a conversation with the buildings operators for them to see how well the building is performing in operation”. Webster says that the meeting is not to criticise the designers but to give them the opportunity to learn what has worked well and what could have been improved upon in the design.

Buildings in Australia have seen dramatic improvements in energy consumption
after introducing the NABERS scheme
In its drive to continuously improve energy efficiency British Land has also started to trail on-site energy generation. At St Stephens shopping centre in Hull, for example, over 1100 photovoltaic panels were installed on the centre’s roof. These generate enough clean electricity to meet a third of the electricity demand in common areas cutting annual electricity bills by £30,000 and generating a return on investment of 14% over 25 years and saving 3000 tonnes of carbon.

Similarly, an air-source heat pump was installed at 350 Euston Road in 2014. This has cut gas use by 85% and achieved payback within a year. This has the additional benefit of saving occupiers £60,000 a year and has cut temperature-related complaints by 40%. The switch as also cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by 410 tonnes and reduced the need for boiler flues, which also helps to improve local air quality.

Looking to the future, British Land already has plans in place to meet its 55% energy intensity reduction target. Through the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme audits across the portfolio, it has identified further initiatives that could deliver an additional £3.7m net savings and optimise environmental conditions. “This now forms a key part of our roadmap to achieving our reduction target,” Webster says.

To find out more about the CIBSE Building Performance Awards and how to enter for the 2018 competition (deadline: 15 September 2017) visit www.cibse.org/bpa

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