Next X: The Most Highly Desirable Green Boroughs to Live and Work in London – Our Thoughts
Last month, we revealed the top 10 list of highly desirable green boroughs to live and work in London using our new location analysis tool, Next X. We spoke to colleagues from across BNP Paribas Real Estate UK to find out what they thought of the rankings generated by Next X and what it means for the future of the workplace.
With the busy South West Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham coming in at number one, Carley Bright, BNP Paribas Real Estate General Manager at 245 Hammersmith Road says, “It’s exciting to see Hammersmith & Fulham topping the list. It is well deserved as there are so many beautiful spaces in the borough such as community gardens, the many parks and the riverside. 245 Hammersmith Road, one of the largest development in the area for 25 years, has helped to set a new standard for corporate property in the area”.
With sustainability a key factor within these green borough rankings, it is promising to see that the 242,000 sq ft scheme has always prioritised sustainability. Carley comments, “The intention with 245 Hammersmith Road has always been to go beyond that and offer an environment that supports the occupiers and at the same time gives back to the community. This is what makes our space attractive to occupiers. Energy-efficient offices helping to keep running costs down are a given, however what is equally important is the building’s design and its positive impact on productivity and wellbeing. 245 Hammersmith Road offers plenty of natural light to enhance mood and productivity, along with landscaped gardens, a green wall and a roof terrace for recreation. There is plenty of bike space and changing facilities to encourage workers to cycle to work. Coming to work is really worthwhile due to the creative working environment and top facilities, that can’t be provided in the same way when working from home.”
Similarly, Stephen Wolfe, Head of Commercial and based in the Central London Head Office believes that, “ESG and the return to the office are the most talked about topics right now, and both are very much interlinked. COVID-19 has made senior business leaders think carefully about the purpose of the office and how it is used. Going forward, the office certainly has a place in supporting business’ success yet it needs to offer much more than desks. The focus will be on creative working environments that offer a reason to come together and collaborate in person. This is why locations with a strong offer of quality sustainable offices with great facilities are attracting both businesses and talent.”
Senior Research Analyst, Charlie Tattersall further corroborates the importance of sustainable offices.
“The increasing level of Grade A office supply in Hammersmith and Richmond, along with good green infrastructure and rental discount to Central London, makes these locations highly attractive for environmentally-conscious occupiers. In both locations, Grade A office space on the market currently amounts to circa 25% of current total supply, and the development pipeline has almost tripled in 12 months. With many occupiers now planning to introduce more sustainable, cost-effective working models, this suggests the appeal of these locations will continue to grow in a rapidly changing office market.”
When it comes to sustainability and net zero, has the COVID-19 pandemic and the approaching UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), accelerated demand for greener offices?
Jonathan Hale, Sustainability Director comments, “In addition to both the ‘activity’ and ‘inactivity’ brought on by the commencement of a global pandemic just over a year ago, we have witnessed the accelerated action on Climate Change, an ESG boom and a clear global convergence on Net Zero. As the return to office gathers momentum and in the year of COP26 in Glasgow, it is worth noting the fundamental visible shift across the nation towards business’ focus on sustainable investment opportunities and how ESG is front and centre of informed decision making within the real estate sector.
Landlords and occupiers are beginning to align to the line of thought that a sustainable office building is no longer just a ‘nice to have’; instead the green premium is evermore becoming a reality as green buildings certified to industry standards (which include BREEAM In-Use, LEED, Fitwel, Well and RESET) are seen as a safer, resilient and more attractive option. With certified green buildings being subject to both stringent and tangible sustainable assessment criteria, their advantages can often lead to reduced maintenance, reduced environmental impact, increased occupier comfort and higher returns per sq ft office space”.
What about certified green buildings?
Jonathan believes that, “Certified green buildings are also more appealing to occupiers that increasingly want to ensure that their workplace strategy aligns with their brand values. Given ESG is top of the agenda for most businesses, occupiers want to make sure that the buildings from which they operate support their corporate ambition.
Sustainable buildings also support a healthier working environment. From the many facets, which determine a certified green building, better air-quality is often central to most external assessment criteria. With businesses planning for the return to the office as restrictions ease, the importance of maintaining a safe working environment and reducing spread of COVID-19 and new variants has never been more important. Looking ahead, locations that can offer a healthy supply of green, sustainable workspace will no doubt have a strong competitive advantage in securing business and talent over the short medium and long term”