Property developer aims for UK construction first

Property developer, Landsec is planning what it claims to be is the UK’s first net-zero carbon commercial building.

The Forge, previously known as 105 Sumner St, SE1, is a 13,000m2office development in Southwark, south east London. It is hoped that it will be the first commercial building to be both constructed and operated in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) net-zero carbon buildings framework and associated energy performance targets. There is no building in the UK that has been verified in line with UKGBC’s framework that is net zero in both construction and operation.

The Forge will be one of the most innovative construction sites in the capital. Landsec, along with tech-led design practice Bryden Wood, and design development and prototyping company Easi-Space, have together been awarded funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to deliver what will be the world’s first ever office building using a platform-led approach to design and construction.

The platform system, known as P-DfMA (Platform for Design, Manufacture and Assembly), consists of a set of components that can be efficiently combined to produce highly customised structures, enabling different kinds of spaces to be built with just a single 'kit of parts'. The new approach has been identified by the government as essential to the transformation of the construction sector. A trial led by Landsec, Bryden Wood and Easi-Space saw construction productivity improved by 55 per cent, installation time reduced by 30 per cent and cost savings are expected to reach 33 per cent when compared to traditional construction techniques. The result is a structure that uses less material, creates less waste, and has an almost 20 per cent reduction in carbon impact.

Developing a net-zero-carbon building is a meaningful way of addressing scope 3 emissions - those that are a consequence of a company’s actions, but which occur at sources that the company does not own or control. Construction activities account for a large part of the development industry’s scope 3 emissions and include supply-chain emissions arising from extraction of resources, the manufacturing of products, the transportation of materials and the assembly of a building.

Landsec says its future developments will be built to, and operate in line with, UKGBC’s net zero carbon buildings framework.

Mark Allan, chief executive, Landsec, said: “Our target is to be a net-zero-carbon business by 2030. That means we have to start making changes to the way we do things now. We know that property companies have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency. We’re clear, therefore, that our sustainability strategy must be deeply embedded in our development programme and we will continue to be ambitious in our approach.”
Julie Hirigoyen, (pictured) chief executive at UKGBC, said: “Forty per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributable to the built environment and so as a sector, we need to be pursuing aggressive rates of decarbonisation. The Forge is a ground-breaking development and testament to Landsec’s desire to tackle the climate crisis head on. Developers, construction firms, architects and occupiers must start working together at scale to deliver buildings like this that minimise whole life carbon and contribute to meaningful progress in the battle against climate change.”

In 2016 Landsec became the first property company in the world to adopt a science-based target to tackle emissions and has since launched a five-step plan to become a net-zero-carbon business by 2030.

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