London as prime investment location prompts property retrofit

London as prime investment location prompts property retrofit


With the eyes of the world focused on Glasgow and COP26 in November it might have been easy to miss an important accolade that could see a positive knock-on effect for investment throughout the UK. On 1st November, when events in Glasgow were in full swing, London was named as best city in Europe for property investment.


Confidence in the capital


Our own capital city beat competition from prime locations, Berlin and Paris, from a survey that included around 850 developers and lenders, real estate investors, fund managers and advisors from across Europe. A key reason for the win was cited as London being better value for money than the other two; although, equally, confidence across the whole of the European property market remains high.

This boom in investment shows strength in our property market, and with London always the catalyst for change for the rest of the UK, we can expect to see a chain reaction in the great cities of the north, such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Already we have seen over the last 18 months an increase of large developments like science parks and distribution centres near to these areas – a happy coincidence for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ‘levelling up’ agenda.

However, as the announcement was made mid-COP26 and with the real estate sector having one of the highest carbon footprints of any sector, it might feel somewhat disingenuous to celebrate the honour. Or does it?


Retrofitting to the rescue


We know there’s huge emphasis on the decarbonisation of homes and buildings and subsequently a great challenge to retrofit or refurbish existing stock to meet sustainability targets. It is an undertaking that might seem costly or time consuming but with incentives for investors increasing, such as the ‘green premium’, and conversely, application of a ‘brown discount’ on the value of a property, retrofitting is also now seen as necessary.

There is an argument that is still hotly debated in favour of new construction and making a building operationally net-zero from its inception. However, as attention on the construction industry grows and its impact on the environment comes under increasing scrutiny, we need to see past a building’s operational carbon footprint and instead focus on the embodied carbon, which is the carbon footprint of producing the building materials. Embodied carbon can’t be reversed so needs to remain a key consideration in the ‘build-versus-retrofit’ argument.

London as prime investment location prompts property retrofit

And so to retrofitting, which is a more sustainable choice thanks to the better environmentally friendly strategies involved, such as reusing and repurposing building materials. While retrofitting is a smarter environmental option, to achieve carbon neutrality the approach also needs to go hand-in-hand with other operational essentials that include:

  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Increasing energy efficiency
  • Better management of heating and cooling


The role of maths in retrofitting buildings


Maths is our friend when it comes to decarbonisation. Calculations such as the U-Value of a building will be invaluable as the move to retrofitting or refurbishing buildings gathers momentum. The U-Value refers to how much heat escapes from a particular component like a building’s roof or its windows. Once it’s been calculated, the best course of action will be revealed, for example, increasing insulation or triple glazing windows.

Most organisations should have a net-zero strategy or be thinking about writing one. One of the best places to start with something that might seem like a monumental task is with another calculation. By carrying out the carbon footprint calculation of an entire organisation, informed decisions can be made about the best low-carbon technologies to invest in and which Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives will be the most effective for that company and its buildings. A carbon footprint calculation is based on the three emissions scopes as defined by the Green House Gas (GHG) protocol, which are:

  1. Direct emissions
  2. Indirect emissions
  3. Emissions generated from the value chain

Once there’s a clear picture of where efficiencies need to be increased or emissions cut, the organisation will know where to scale up its decarbonisation efforts through the use of, for example, heat pumps, solar PV panels, or LED lighting.

Inteb has years of experience in advising organisations about their best route to improving energy and sustainability targets. If you want expert advice on retrofitting your building or need help with establishing your carbon footprint, contact us today to start the conversation.

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