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Net Zero Carbon Office Requirements: Birmingham And Manchester Lead The Way


Birmingham could be about to land its first net zero carbon office deal. A 60K SF office requirement for an unnamed occupier is currently fascinating landlords and developers, and contracts are expected to be signed soon.

A sign of the times, or an eccentric one-off? According to brokers, developers and contractors the answer is that the 60K SF requirement will be the first of many.

The drive for net zero carbon buildings will be a major focus for Birmingham’s property market in 2020, JLL said. 

The claim comes as Birmingham prepares for a new clean air zone and digests proposals for a workplace parking levy, both part of a package of measures intended to green the city centre.

“We are currently working with a number of clients to navigate what net zero carbon buildings mean for their portfolios as it starts to become part of the mix of requirements, as awareness rises and new initiatives to tackle pollution in the cities come into force,” JLL Office Agency Director Jonathan Carmalt said.

“With 60 to 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions coming from the world’s cities and 40% from commercial buildings, you can see the urgency to address the climate crisis in Birmingham and the West Midlands, especially when population figures are expected to grow significantly.

“We’ve seen the huge commitment property companies such as IM Properties and Prologis are putting into their social value programmes, looking at both the social as well as economic impact their new developments are having on communities.” 

Construction and consultancy business Mace is also taking up the challenge. It said it is the first construction company to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions in 2020. 

The ambitious target will see the company reduce its carbon emissions across its own development and operations as far as possible and offset all outstanding emissions to industry-best standards.

Mace’s strategy explores different approaches to tackle the challenges of energy use and embodied carbon, including the decarbonisation of heating and cooling systems, business travel, and water and waste. 

The challenge of reducing carbon use on existing buildings is also being tackled, although it is Manchester rather than a Birmingham business that claims the crown.

Peel Land and Property said its portfolio is the first in the UK to achieve net zero carbon status

Grade A offices across Liverpool and Greater Manchester and an historic building in Glasgow have been third-party verified against UK Green Building Council’s 2019 definition.

Eleven properties, ranging in size from 25K SF to over 120K SF, including buildings in TraffordCity (Manchester), MediaCityUK (Salford) and Princes Dock at Liverpool Waters, are the first in the UK to demonstrate net zero carbon status based on their operational carbon emissions, action taken to reduce those emissions and their renewable energy use. 

As a result, at one property the landlord is anticipating energy and carbon savings of 60% annually.