05 Nov 2022

Commercial Property

How commercial landlords can help in the fight against climate change

With COP27 getting underway in Egypt, James Young, a Partner in our Commercial Property team, explores how commercial landlords can offer innovative solutions, to ensure everyone is playing their part.

Renewable energy

Solar panels have become a common feature of both the residential and commercial landscapes, as an increasing number of people look to harness the power of the sun (when it makes an appearance here in Wales!).

In the face of rising electricity costs and the adequate roof space provided by many commercial properties, solar panels are increasingly being seen as a sensible investment.

Alongside the sustainable credentials gained, there are also a number of financial benefits. You’ll likely see a cut on your energy bills and you may even be able to sell back excess energy to your supplier. With the push towards sustainable energy, governments are also offering a number of financial investments to encourage landlords to make the shift to solar. Indeed, solar experts ‘My Power’ claim that commercial solar installations can deliver a return-on-investment of in excess of 15%.

Go Green

If you have a flat or slightly sloped roof, you may want to consider installing a ‘green roof’ – also known as a living roof. The surface is covered with a waterproof membrane, before a layer of vegetation is placed on top.

Alongside the obvious environmental benefits, as your roof works to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, other benefits include improved air quality and an increase in energy efficiency, with the ‘living roof’ acting as an additional layer of insulation.

Your roof can also assist with drainage and help to avoid flooding, as plants atop the building retain water, before naturally releasing it back into the atmosphere. SAGE estimate that a green roof can intercept between 50-75% of rainwater, with intensive designs reducing water runoff by up to 90%.

Location, Location, Location

If you’re looking to purchase or lease commercial space, you may want to take into account the location of your property and how this can bolster your green credentials.

Does the space offer convenient access to more sustainable transport links, such as buses, tubes or trains? London arguably leads the way when it comes to public transport in the UK, with almost 1.4 billion underground journeys per year. Extensions are planned across the city, with the Elizabeth Line already adding 10 new stations across Central London.

Although you may not be looking to locate within the catchment area of a sprawling underground system, consider how you can reduce the impact of travel to and from your commercial space, such as encouraging environmentally friendly options like walking, cycling or car-sharing.

It’s also worth contemplating the impact of your neighbours. If your property is located in the shadows of a soaring skyscraper, then you may find yourself turning on the heating more often than if you were able to revel in hours of sunlight.

To the windows…

Far from simply being a pane of glass through which employees daydream (or brainstorm!), the windows you install can have a dramatic impact on the efficiency of your building.

When purchasing or replacing windows, make sure to take into consideration the ratings provided by the British Fenestration Ratings Council. The BRFC compare U-Value (otherwise known as heat loss), solar heat gain co-efficient, or how much a window will absorb heat from sunlight, as well as air leakage. Where possible, utilise windows rated ‘A’ for efficiency. Although perhaps a more expensive outlay, you’ll save a small fortune in heating and air-conditioning costs down the line.

If you’re undergoing a renovation process, why not take the time to consider the strategic positioning of your windows? Increased daylight not only promotes higher productivity levels among your team, but also naturally warms rooms, thus reducing the need to turn on the heating.

Turn to technology

The smart meter has become a common feature of homes across the UK, as we all look to monitor our energy usage. Why not install something similar in communal areas, such as the kitchen or staff room, where energy consumption tends to be higher?

A visual reminder of the impact of not switching off the light or leaving devices on standby could prompt more sustainable behaviours throughout the building – after all, we’re all in this together!

Get in touch

For more detailed advice on the legal considerations around your commercial property, please get in touch with James either by email at james.young@hevans.com, or call 01633 244233.

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