Low Carbon Workplace (LCW)

Low carbon offices - Carter Lane, City of London

Delivering high quality, low carbon offices that are inspiring, comfortable, excellent value for money and leading edge in their energy usage.


Our built environment contributes to a significant portion of global carbon emissions. In the UK alone, it makes up 25% of the market’s carbon emissions, most of which arise from existing, outdated, and underperforming buildings. Since 80% of current buildings will likely still be in operation by 2050, decarbonising existing stock is a significant challenge to meeting Net Zero commitments.
To help address this challenge, the Carbon Trust established the Low Carbon Workplace (LCW) initiative in 2020 to accelerate carbon reductions in refurbishment, operation, and end-of-life for existing buildings. 

Together with our partners, Columbia Threadneedle and Stanhope, we established the Carbon Neutral Real Estate Fund (formerly Low Carbon Workplace Fund). The fund appeals to institutional investors and targets obsolete assets with poor energy and carbon performance. With our low carbon mandate, we invest to transform these assets into modern, energy efficient offices with low running costs, enhanced health and wellbeing, and in-use performance support. 

The Low Carbon Workplace (LCW) offer

We provide Net Zero advice and support across the fund’s activities, enhancing the benefits for investors and tenants alike. 

How we can help
  • Net Zero and sustainable real estate acquisition assessment: Providing comprehensive criteria for all pipeline assets to determine suitability for refurbishment, meeting stringent in-use KPIs.
  • Refurbishment specification: Detailing the required building enhancements, environmental performance of new equipment, sustainability of materials, health and wellbeing features, and systems that enable tenant engagement.
  • Construction support: Overseeing the refurbishment to ensure design is translated into reality, measuring and mitigating the environmental and carbon impacts of the process. 
  • In-use active emissions management: Using detailed data from energy monitoring systems, air quality sensors, and building controls to identify opportunities for optimised energy performance, enabling action by facilities managers and maintenance teams.
  • Tenant engagement: Tenants are our greatest allies in achieving emissions reductions. As such, working with them effectively is our priority. Our support starts with a mutual commitment to cooperation and information sharing. We then help with the new office layout, move-in support, technical assistance, and ongoing communication on emissions, sustainability, and wellbeing metrics.

Results to date

The LCW initiative has delivered low carbon, sustainable buildings that are ahead of their time and we are now on our way to reach Net Zero emissions. The fund joined the Better Buildings Partnership Climate Commitment, and in 2020 we published the fund’s Net Zero pathway. 

Over the past decade, the fund has completed 9 sustainable refurbishments, with 100% acheiving EPC 'B' rating. It has managed £300m worth of assets, and proved the value of active carbon management

refurbishments of obsolete offices
achieved EPC ‘B’ and certified BREEAM ‘Excellent’
actual-performance data and carbon emissions disclosure

Moving forward

Building on the success in offices in the first phase of the fund, we’re now extending our impact by investing in a wider range of commercial real estate assets. Our key principles for delivering a new portfolio of climate change impact assets are aligned with leading emissions reduction and industry benchmarks, including:

  • Paris aligned 1.5C portfolio target
  • Embodied emissions surpassing RIBA 2030 Challenge
  • All-electric buildings, with no fossil fuels by 2035
  • On-site renewables and green electricity procurement
  • Residual emissions neutralised with carbon removals

We are also extending our engagement with tenants and collaborating in new ways through: 

  • Transparent data sharing and reporting of all emissions scopes
  • Health and wellbeing data, analysis, and communication
  • Creating community and social value
  • Long-term Net Zero asset plans that extend beyond the ownership of the fund
  • Novel incentives to encourage strong, continued collaboration