It's no accident one of Workspace's newest developments, The Frames, in Shoreditch, is environmentally friendly. The building received an Excellent rating at the design stage from BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment), which is the world's leading sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings.
"BREEAM drives more sustainability in buildings," says Anna MacKenzie, a Senior Sustainability Engineer at Etude, a consultancy team which has worked for the Greater London Authority as well as on The Frames development. "It's widely recognised and required by many local authorities. It gives designers and product teams a framework in which they can design the buildings."
The Frames benefits from natural light and natural ventilation as well as clever design to encourage movement around the building. It’s a great advertisement for the idea that design, and clever combinations of open space and private offices for both collaboration and concentration, can promote health and wellbeing. For example, the urban airy composition of the staircase makes walking up more appealing for those usually tempted by the lift.
If you do make it up to the top of The Frames, you'll find photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building as well 300msq of green roof. "The different species of plants and succulents increase biodiversity and provide habitat for other forms of nature," says Anna MacKenzie. Screenworks in Islington, Record Hall near Chancery Lane and Cocoa Studios (part of The Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey) are just some of the Workspace centres bringing greenery to London's skyline.
The Frames building also has other features which are good for sustainability including waterless urinals, low-flush toilets and sinks and showers which are designed to use less water. “There's a system to shut water off automatically if a space is unoccupied," adds Anna.
Electricity and gas use are also strictly monitored at Workspace centres. In many buildings, heat pumps, which emit less carbon dioxide than a normal gas boiler, cool and heat units. Each unit has its own meter, so individual customers can regulate their own use, while communal spaces are sub-metered so that Centre Managers can measure how much energy is being used on lighting, ventilation and other operations. The web-based building management system Optergy has been installed at all new developments and refurbished sites over the last few years allowing for Facilities Managers to control the building remotely. Customers will soon have the ability to log in to view their own energy profile online.
Many Workspace development projects have scored similarly well with BREEAM. “We work closely with the BREEAM assessors throughout the project,” says Karen Jamison, Energy and Sustainability Manager at Workspace. “The BREEAM framework covers a wide range of sustainability features, and some are more relevant and suited to Workspace than others. For example, we often exceed the number of cycling facilities needed for the BREEAM transport requirement as this is an important part of our customer offering." The Frames, Grand Union Studios and Edinburgh House in Kennington (a refurbishment and extension of the old Met Police Station in Kennington), have all been given Very Good or Excellent ratings for their low-impact design and carbon emissions reduction; design durability and resilience; adaption to climate change; and ecological value and biodiversity protection.
Many Workspace developments, like Pill Box in Bethnal Green, China Works in Vauxhall and Edinburgh House in Kennington, are redevelopments of iconic and historic buildings. Development teams work hard, says Karen, to keep as much of the original buildings as possible, thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint of the building as well as retaining the history of the sites.
In addition to design, having good systems and processes in place can drastically improve centres' environmental impact. The number of Workspace properties in which 70% or more of its waste is recycled has increased from 10 sites to 14 sites. Greville Street has an impressive average recycling rate of 94% while Pill Box has accomplished 86%. Provision of onsite segregation for different waste streams as well as engaging customers to use clear sacks help ensure waste is correctly segregated. This helps maximise the site’s recycling rate.
"Waste management is very good at our centre," Andy Marsh, Principal Consultant at Anthesis Group, a Workspace customer whose London office is based at The Leather Market, in Bermondsey. Anthesis is a global sustainability consultancy whose clients include multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Tesco and The North Face, charities like WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme), and local clients such as universities, local authorities and housing associations. "We can recycle a lot of materials. The regular recycling roadshows are good and well attended."
"Customers seem very engaged with the topic and interested in where their energy comes from," says Karen. "It's often a vital component of their own sustainability reports and accreditations." She’s keen to point out that all Workspace electricity contracts are on a green tariff. SSE Green is made up of 100% renewable energy generated by a variable mix of hydroelectric, offshore and onshore wind.
"We have to do a due diligence process on our landlord," agrees Andy. "Sustainability formed part of the criteria for our move to The Leather Market. We were looking for somewhere with meters in place to measure energy and heating, as well as a space we could refurbish and include our own sustainability requirements like LED lights," says Andy.
In order to ensure the environmental management systems (EMS) for their Leather Market office stay certified to ISO 14001:2015 standard, Anthesis constantly monitors, reviews and reduces their environmental impact. "That means office operations like waste, water, energy procurement, travel and paper use," explains Andy. The team also conducts an annual check with Workspace to keep up to date on their environmental and health & safety performance.
Transparency is an important part of Workspace's sustainability efforts. Karen Jamison is a point of contact for businesses based at Workspace as well as all the centre managers. "It's forward thinking to have a sustainability manager who can monitor how much each building is using but also can see the bigger picture in terms of developing systems and monitoring them. This needs to be done by other companies," says Anna.
Workspace’s efforts in this area have been recognised. For the fifth year in a row, Workspace has been awarded a Green Star for the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) survey. It is a way to measure a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Workspace achieved an A rating for Public Disclosure and scored 80 in the Real Estate Assessment, exceeding both the Average score of 68 and the Peer Average score of 72. Workspace was also awarded another Gold for disclosing and reporting their sustainability performance in line with the 2018 EPRA sBPRs for the fifth year in a row.
It makes good business sense, says Andy. "The majority of tenders we receive request information on sustainability policies and performance. The questions from potential clients are more in depth. Before they'd ask if you have an EMS certified to ISO 14001. Now they ask you specific questions about what you're doing to improve your sustainability performance."
"CEOs and management are realising that sustainability and business go hand in hand. Embed sustainability in your organisation and, instead of additional costs, you'll get cost savings and some great PR."
Find out more about how Workspace is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its properties and creating healthy and productive communities where businesses can thrive.