Whole lifecycle carbon analysis

Whole lifecycle carbon analysis

Chester House, Kennington Park

Workspace Group refurbished Chester House, cutting the whole lifecycle carbon emissions of the building by almost 25%, compared to a new regional office building. This will save more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 over the building’s 60-year lifespan.

At Workspace, we are committed to our continued focus on enhancing the environmental performance of our portfolio.  Many of the buildings we own have long histories and a fundamental part of our business ethos is about embracing these past lives.  Instead of deconstructing and rebuilding them, we therefore aim to retain as much of their history as we can, using careful and considerate redevelopment in refurbishing them, transforming them into modern day spaces which our tenants will love to work from but which retain and celebrate their past life. 

We believe that, in taking this approach to our portfolio, we are able to reduce the whole-life environmental impact of our sites.  In order to prove this, we commissioned an external study of our Chester House site in London, SW9, to identify the true environmental impact on its Whole Life Carbon emissions[i]. The CLA study includes the phases of design and planning, resources input, manufacturing, operation and use, maintenance, demolition and recycling. 

Carbon assessment

Chester House, located in south London, is a Victorian warehouse that has been converted into offices. A whole life carbon assessment was initially commissioned following a refurbishment project in 2011, and this was subsequently updated this year to take into account a new floor which was since added.  The study also compared Chester House to a standard new build airconditioned office building in London and in regional business districts.

In the original, three-storied structure, the original brick façade has been retained. The additional third floor is a light weight structure built on the existing roof. The retained brick faced for the first three storeys gives the building a long-life expectancy that allows refurbishment periods to be synchronized with other factors such as changes to leases. All floors have newly fitted, efficient heating and hot water system. The first three storeys also include internal secondary glazing to reduce heat loss and air leakage, blinds fitted between glazing to reduce summer solar gain, and exposed brickwork that acts as thermal mass to reduce cooling demand. These factors lead to a carbon efficient building overall.


During the product manufacture stage, Chester House produces 69% and 63% less carbon than the central London and regional benchmark buildings respectively. This is mainly because refurbishment requires much less material, as it keeps the major building structure. During operation, emissions are 38% and 12% lower than central London and regional benchmark, largely because Chester House does not have high maintenance equipment, such as large lifts and escalators.

Key findings include:

  • Over a life span of 60-years, the Whole Life Carbon emissions for the current scheme are assessed at 27,250 tCO2e (5,103 kgCO2e/m2)
  • This footprint is about 35% and 25% lower than a new build central London office and a regional benchmark building respectively. 
  • Following the update, the net carbon emissions per square meter are also lower by 14% compared to the previous report issued in 2011.

Chester House is therefore shown to be performing notably better than benchmark prestige London and regional offices and its carbon footprint at the end of life (with the assumption that it is refurbished again rather than deconstructed) is less than a third compared to new builds in London. 

[i] The key contribution that Whole Life Carbon reporting makes is its ability to take account of all sources of emissions associated with the building (including construction and end of life deconstruction), and not just those that arise from its use.  

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