Carbon Reduction Strategies March 2012

Over 40 construction and property professionals gathered at Squires Sanders at 2 Park Lane in Leeds last Thursday evening for another engaging Green Vision event. An excellent panel of speakers covering the relationship and correlation between Carbon Costs and Competitive edge offered their perspectives on the relationship between carbon and cost reduction. Richard Francis brought an update on the emerging link between building and financial performance highlighting the business case for Carbon reduction and energy efficiency of commercial properties Vassos spoke passionately about the need to reduce Carbon (and Costs) in the construction delivery process with excellent compelling examples of waste through logistics planning of national construction projects. Tim then made the compelling case that construction firms must be better and perform in a more efficient way in order to reap the competitive edge and associated benefits.

Richard Francis presented with the commercial property cost perspective of carbon, with a clear desire to communicate that green buildings carry a value premium but noting that this is often difficult to present with hard figures.  What is more apparent and convincing is a “brown discount” for poor performing properties.  The latter is currently featuring into transactions such as due diligence and rent reviews.

Richard set the scene by proposing that people are excited by the low carbon agenda and that occupiers are savvier than ever, this combined with property portfolios being a considerable expense to organisations set the commercial business case for low carbon building. Compared with 5 years ago the plethora of regulatory drivers is evident, yet Richard stressed that it is not these that are ultimately driving change: the market is now leading.  The cost of doing nothing is getting more expensive and energy is not just about energy anymore. Buildings are the ultimate representation of a company’s due diligence, behaviour and should mirror their CSR policies and as a result it is getting easier for customers to make decisions about companies according to their buildings’ performance. Environmental performance is an indicator of what companies stand for and how they operate their business. It speaks directly to the most important company asset – its reputation. Richard then went on to present a compelling case for a review of existing assets and focussing on priority assets and those that can achieve the greatest savings.

Next to present was Vassos who started the presentation with a comparison of two live national construction projects and the identification that a key source of Carbon relating to their projects is from logistics (transport of resources both human and materials) to and from the sites during the lifespan of the projects.  A key message from Vassos’s work and use of the carbon calculator tool ConstructCO2 was that all of the records needed to track carbon in the construction delivery process are already in place – it is just a case of knowing how to analyse the data. Evidence form case studies pointed to the need for transport and travel plans, procurement of local trades and appropriate sourcing of materials as a means to reducing Construction Carbons.

Next up to present the case for better, more competitive, carbon savvy construction firms was Tim Whitehill of Room4 Consulting Ltd who opened his presentation with an overview of the current economic gloom stating the case for ever increasing efficiency and continuous improvement within firms. Taking examples from leading sector (retail/ car manufacturing) Tim led us to think about the direction of the Construction sector and the absolute need to improve performance and innovate in order to overcome the margin squeeze and retain competitive advantage whilst improving environmental performance and reducing costs.

A lively Q and A covered topics such as Occupant behaviour , the real costs of doing nothing as a company, and the need for evaluation and measurement of Carbons in order to make improvements in Construction Carbons in the delivery process.

Slides from the presentations can be found here – www.green-vision.org.uk