First fully energy-managed low-carbon office launched

The first occupier, Investec Wealth and Investment Ltd, is already benefitting from energy efficiency advice to help it occupy the building as closely as possible to its design specification.

The Billings, located in Guildford, is a 160-year-old former printing press, selected as an ideal refit opportunity partly thanks to the thermal properties of its high-ceilinged rooms and thick walls. With the refit complete LCW's exclusive Carbon Adviser, Low Carbon Workplace Ltd, a subsidiary of the Carbon Trust, is providing advice to Investec Wealth and Investment to achieve as much as a 60% operational carbon reduction over the industry standard*.

Low Carbon Workplace Ltd helps occupiers on an ongoing basis to actively manage their energy costs, monitoring usage and occupancy patterns before advising on how to meet energy efficiency targets - the tenant winning with lower bills and lower carbon emissions. The advice starts pre-move, considering optimal space utilisation and continues with advice on operating the building and engaging staff to play their part. Achieving the building's low carbon targets makes the occupier eligible for certification to the Low Carbon Workplace Standard, a new environmental benchmark specifically designed for the workplace.

LCW is a partnership between Carbon Trust, Threadneedle Investments and Stanhope. The Townsend Group has recently made a significant equity commitment to LCW taking the total to £100m.

Katharine Deas, Managing Director of Low Carbon Workplace Ltd, said:

"Low carbon buildings need low carbon occupiers to be able to perform to their design intent in energy efficiency terms. Landlords are often criticised for a 'let and forget' mentality, not helping their occupiers reduce their energy costs once they are in the building. We will play an active role in helping our occupiers monitor and reduce their energy usage, cutting their costs and carbon footprint. The Billings not only provides low-carbon office space, it's a really comfortable, inviting environment to work in."

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, said:

"This is a first for the UK property market. The new Low Carbon Workplace model is a win for occupiers through lower energy costs and we believe will drive a huge market for low carbon commercial office space. We see this as a key green growth area which the recent investment from The Townsend Group underlines."

David Richardson, Divisional Director of Investec Wealth & Investment, said:

"We're pleased to be pioneers here at The Billings. The support offered by LCW has made our ongoing transition to energy efficiency a smooth process. The Billings' built-in technology has aided our efforts to reduce our carbon emissions, but I've been struck by the difference that minor changes to our work practices have made. For instance, we've done away with our under-desk litter bins. Consequently, the amount of rubbish that we throw away has fallen steeply and the amount that we recycle has risen sharply."

Rob Watts, Development Director and Director of Stanhope, said:

"The completion and letting of our first building marks an important achievement for the Fund. With three other refurbishments well underway and new investors we are now well advanced in establishing an industry norm for low carbon refurbishment and operation."

Don Jordison, Managing Director of Property at Threadneedle Investments, said:

"Genuine institutional investment coming in to this space provides a clear message - it is about good returns on a good investment which has an environmentally beneficial by-product. Commercial buildings currently account for a fifth of UK's emissions and such a coordinated approach addressing occupiers and investors' needs could not have come a moment too soon."

Ray Crowley, Verdantix analyst and author of the 2011 Low Carbon Real Estate Fund Launched in the UK report recognised the LCW model as "the first example of a landlord and tenant proactively engaging on building carbon efficiency performance and an approach that adds value for both parties".

Non-domestic buildings account for 18% of the UK's total carbon emissions and 60% of the buildings standing in 2050 (when the country is committed to a 80% reduction in carbon emissions) have already been built.

About The Billings

The Billings provides high specification, energy-efficient office space for up to 200 occupiers. It incorporates an innovative heating and cooling system, lighting and advanced insulation. The Low Carbon Workplace Partnership chose to purchase and refurbish the building in part due to its proximity to transport links, being located opposite Guildford railway station and within walking distance of the town centre.

Some of the building's key low-carbon features:

  • The office has 'active chilled beams' which use considerably less energy than traditional forms of air conditioning for the same amount of heating and cooling.
  • Presence detection, automatic controls and high efficiency fittings reduce energy from lighting and fittings near windows will dim whenever there is sufficient daylight.
  • Walls, slabs and columns have been exposed to maximise the benefit of their high thermal inertia - taking heat from the air during warm periods and so reducing cooling requirements.
  • False ceilings have been removed exposing the building's natural high ceilings which allow hot air to rise away from the working space decreasing the need for cooling.
  • The automated monitoring systems help the occupants identify and deal with areas of waste on a near real-time basis.

Notes to editors:

*Energy Consumption Guide 19, Government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme (typical air-conditioned office performance).

For further information:

For more information and to speak to a Carbon Trust spokesperson, please contact the Carbon Trust press office:
Tel no: 0207 544 3100

Low Carbon Workplace Trust, is an initiative set up by the Carbon Trust, the developer Stanhope plc and asset manager Threadneedle Investments in March 2010 to develop and manage affordable energy efficient office buildings, and provide occupiers with ongoing support in minimising their carbon emissions and achieving independent certification to the Low Carbon Workplace Standard.

Low Carbon Workplace Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Carbon Trust, and will contribute low carbon design advice for refurbishments, coordinate the Low Carbon Workplace Standard and provide ongoing low-carbon assistance to occupiers under the Low Carbon Workplace Charter.

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

We help to cut carbon emissions now by

  • Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon
  • Setting standards for carbon reduction

We reduce potential future carbon emissions by

  • Opening markets for low carbon technologies
  • Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies
  • Investing in early stage low carbon companies

Threadneedle is the fund manager for the Threadneedle LCW Trust. Threadneedle has one of the largest and most experienced property teams operating in the UK today with 26 investment professionals.Threadneedle has been investing in commercial property since 1994 and currently manage more than £5.8 billion in property assets (as at 30.09.2011). Our property team have an average of 17 years' market experience and have been with Threadneedle for more than nine years on average. This stability has been a key factor in the team's success. The team was awarded the Property Asset Manager of the Year at the 2011 Financial News Awards, Property Fund Manager of the Year at the 2011 Property Week Awards for the second time in 3 years and the fifth time in 16 years. Fund Manager of the Year at the 2009 Property Week Awards - the fourth time they have won this high profile award, and were also awarded Europroperty's Fund Manager of the Year 2009.

Stanhope Plc is a specialist UK real estate developer of major commercial and mixed-use projects. With 25 years experience, and more than £10 billion of completed projects behind it, Stanhope has built an unrivalled specialist in-house team which has earned a reputation for quality and integrity that is second to none.

Stanhope will devise and deliver all the refurbishment work for LCW. With a strong focus on research and innovation, Stanhope has been at the forefront of sustainable innovation in the built environment for over a decade. Stanhope's experience in the field and established supply chain, along with a commitment to working with the occupier throughout the design process, will reduce both financial and material waste.

Stanhope's completed projects include Broadgate, the Royal Opera House, Tate Modern, HM Treasury and Paternoster Square and totals more than 30 office buildings delivered for owner occupiers or pre-lets. The team is currently working on a pipeline of 10million sq ft across 17 projects with partners including the Crown Estate, Legal & General, BSkyB and Schroders.