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Climate change driving landlords to retrofit older commercial premises

Climate change is focusing minds in many areas, not least the commercial property sector. So too are the rising costs of energy, with tenants increasingly looking for more energy-efficient buildings to save on costs.

In the past older buildings may have been demolished, but landlords are increasingly turning to refurbishment or retrofitting.

Why is this important?

By being more environmentally friendly and tastefully refurbing older buildings, even those dating back to the Victorian era, landlords give old structures a new, more efficient lease of life.

According to a report in the Guardian, office space provider Workspace completed this in London with a £45m revamp of an old bus factory and two old warehouses into modern office space. Others are taking up similar projects across the UK.

Helping the drive to net-zero carbon emissions

Retrofitting buildings is helping spearhead the drive for net-zero carbon emissions in the UK.  Reversing a trend for ‘knock it down and start again’, the climate crisis is encouraging developers to rethink the previous philosophy.

This was often the case with commercial premises and office blocks designed for relatively short use, so that when key parts of the building started to fail, demolition became the option for many landlords.

How does retrofitting help?

While modern commercial premises are more environmentally friendly, they still require huge amounts of energy to build, with the manufacture of components as well as the actual construction, leading to greater carbon emissions.

Retrofitting older premises means some of the huge initial carbon emissions can be avoided.

Chris Cummings, Director at Savills Earth, the estate agent’s sustainability team, told the Guardian:

“Twenty years ago, if you looked at the overall carbon impact of a building, then 80 per cent of it might have come from how you use it.”

Buildings become ‘lean and green’

“With a brand-new glass and steel building in London now, 95 per cent to 98 per cent of the building’s impact will be in the materials, because it’s going to be lean and be using green energy, and the grid is decarbonising.

“The prize on offer for decarbonising the entire life cycle of a building is significant. The World Green Building Council calculates that construction, together with the energy required to heat, cool and power buildings, accounts for almost 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

For help and advice with commercial property matters, please contact our expert team today.

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