June 3, 2016
Uncertainty about the consequences of a possible UK vote to leave the EU is having an adverse effect on the country’s construction pipeline, according to the Markit/CPS survey of activity in the market. According to the study, new building orders declined during May for the first time in three years although at 51.2, the index remains above the neutral 50 threshold which indicates that the trend remains positive. The May study specifically asked respondents how their work had been affected by the Brexit vote with one third saying it had had a negative effect. Meanwhile, an April study from CBRE found that demand for office space in London had remained robust through the first quarter despite fears that uncertainty about the market and the wider economy related to the referendum would dampen demand. Meanwhile, a new survey from the IEMA claims that two-thirds of members believe environmental issues will be given lower priority if the UK leaves the EU.
June 3, 2016
There is an urgent need for more action and greater leadership in tackling sustainability requirements in commercial real estate. Just a handful of large companies are meeting sustainability challenges, according to Bilfinger GVA’s sixth Green to Gold survey on the risks of rising sustainability pressures and market demands, with the progress being made not as strong as expected. Although 84 percent of respondents acknowledged that they have a sustainability strategy in place, there are still huge gaps that need to be filled in order to meet appropriate standards. Only 50 percent admitted to assessing operational energy efficiency, whilst 63 percent are not assigning specific figures for the costs or benefits of sustainability issues in investment appraisal calculations. Added to this, 43 percent are yet to assess their portfolio’s risk profile with regards to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. This means the industry now finds itself with more to achieve in significantly less time.
May 27, 2016
The Government of Dubai has announced the opening of what it claims is the world’s first 3D printed office building, a project it first unveiled last Summer. China may take issue with them on that claim but the announcement marks yet another step in the development of the construction process towards mainstream use. The Emirate is using the 250 sq. m. Museum of the Future building as an example of how the UAE can lead the world in 3D building technology. A 3D printer took 17 days to print the building using a modified cement material in layers. The total cost of the print was US$140,000 excluding interior fit-out and furnishing. The developers also claim that there was a 50 percent saving on labour costs as the project only involved 18 people on site, mostly electricians and engineers. The design claims to achieve ‘a shift from the traditional form of work environments and provide greater opportunities to stimulate innovation and communication between workplace teams.’
May 24, 2016
If you’re still confused about the proliferation of green building standards worldwide, then brace yourself. A new standard that seeks to measure the wellbeing inducing characteristics of a building has been launched as a counterpart to the WELL Building Standard developed by the Green Building Certification Institute and the International WELL Building Institute. The new standard is called Fitwel, was designed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration and is overseen by the Centre for Active Design. The standard uses a scorecard that ranks buildings on over 60 criteria such as indoor air quality, fitness facilities and lobby and stairwell design. According to its proponents these criteria apply well-established scientific principles to address seven characteristics of a healthy working environment. The standard is very much a product of the US public sector at this stage and was piloted in 89 federal buildings during 2015. Its full launch is scheduled for next year. Image: Gensler / Hedrich Blessing
April 26, 2016
The World Green Building Council (WGBC) – a network of national green building councils aimed at influencing the green building marketplace – has announced that its Europe Regional Network has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help drive sustainable property development with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD works to support the development of the private sector across Europe, the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, and the provision of modern real estate infrastructure is essential to support economic expansion and diversification in these regions. The new agreement provides a framework to cooperate on a number of areas of sustainable building practices, including promoting best industry standards and practices for energy and resource efficiency, climate resilience and building sustainability; promoting innovative zero-waste design, green urban planning and low carbon emissions; engaging in policy dialogue; and mobilisation of financial resources.
April 22, 2016
LEED certified buildings in Canada have led to a cumulative reduction of over one million tonnes of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of taking 238,377 cars off the road for a year. Along with this milestone the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) announced that in the first quarter of 2016 it certified the 1000th LEED Gold project in Canada. LEED Gold, the second most rigorous level of certification, now makes up 38 per cent of all LEED certified projects in Canada – the highest percentage of all levels. This is evidence of the industry’s enhanced capability to achieve higher levels of building performance. Among the most notable projects that earned LEED certification in the first quarter of this year was the certified LEED Platinum TELUS Garden Office Tower in Vancouver, BC, a one million square foot development in the heart of downtown Vancouver that features one of Vancouver’s largest solar panel collections on the office’s rooftop.
April 12, 2016
Londoners may reportedly be growing concerned over the proliferation of tall buildings, but what if they were constructed in wood, rather than steel and concrete? This is the possibility raised by researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture, who are working with PLP Architecture and engineers Smith and Wallwork, on the development of tall timber buildings in central London. The use of timber is an area of emerging interest for its potential benefits; the most obvious being that it is a renewable resource. Researchers are also investigating other potential benefits, such as reduced costs and improved construction timescales, increased fire resistance, and significant reduction in the overall weight of buildings. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has now been presented with conceptual plans for an 80-storey, 300m high mixed use wooden building integrated within the Barbican.
March 17, 2016
Adults who commute to work via cycling or walking have markedly lower body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) measures in their mid-life compared to adults who commute via car, according to a new study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal. Even people who commute via public transport also showed reductions in BMI and percentage body fat compared with those who commuted only by car. This suggests that even the incidental physical activity involved in taking journeys by public transport may be significant. The study looked at data from over 150,000 individuals from the UK Biobank dataset, a large, observational study of 500,000 individuals aged between 40 and 69 in the UK. The study is the largest to date to analyse the health benefits of active transport. The strongest associations were seen for adults who commuted via bicycle, compared to those who commute via car.
March 16, 2016
The Times (paywall) has uncovered some pretty remarkable statistics about the way the British consume coffee. It appears that we now buy some 2.5 billion paper cups of coffee each year, primarily from the main High Street chains. That’s about 7 million cups a day. The good news for the environmentally conscious public would appear to be that all the chains ensure that each cup is fully recyclable and so prominently displays its green cred where the consumer can’t miss it. The problem is that just 1 in 400 of the cups are actually recycled with the rest going to landfill. The firms involved may include recycling bins in-store, but that accounts for just a fraction of the disposal of the cups. As The Times points out, the companies understand that consumers are more impressed by the claim that a product is 100 percent recyclable than 0.25 percent recycled. They are swayed by the material and ignorant of the management.
March 16, 2016
Today marks the publication of a new guide which claims to help contractors and end-users deliver sustainable fit-out projects. Published by trade body the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), the Fit-out environmental good practice on site guide (C757) claims to be a more practical guide than other publications and standards and addresses the most important challenges for those responsible for fit-outs across a range of sectors including offices, retail, education, leisure and health. The authors claim that the fit-out sector faces unique challenges that include the need for a quick turnaround of projects, the need to control costs as well as deal with project specific site constraints. The guide aims to help the managers of fit-out projects to meet these challenges as well as helping them to deliver projects that are sustainable both during the fit-out phase, occupancy and the life of the completed project.
March 2, 2016
Businesses that seek to occupy premium or grade A office accommodation are traditionally seduced by the next big thing. What was once a bespoke architectural design, then became an icon, a taller building, one made of glass and finally the inevitable iconic, tall, glass tower. Now it seems a good number of those businesses have moved on to green buildings as a must have upgrade to the skyscrapers of glass and steel. Green, it appears, is the new black. But is that really the next big thing or is being green merely the last big thing? Even worse, does going green in terms of building design actually deliver the types of benefits that an occupier or landlord was anticipating, beyond the significance of branding and an alignment with grade A quality office space? The green building narrative is a particularly powerful one and the growth of LEED and BREEAM rated buildings over the last decade is proof of that power.
February 20, 2016
In this week’s Insight Newsletter; Darren Bilsborough on why office location is as important as design; Mark Eltringham says ‘ghosting’ an employer in the manner of the Spanish civil servant who hadn’t turned up to work for six years, is more common than you’d think; how office design is in the beauty of the beholder and why the office property market continues to thrive, despite rumours of its demise. A new report finds dysfunction at the heart of the public sector workplace; the government largely ignores the self-employed; younger workers are more engaged than the middle aged; RIBA consults on the future of its HQ; and many UK commercial buildings are failing to meet energy standards. Download the latest issue of Work&Place and access an Insight Briefing produced in partnership with Connection, which looks at agile working in the public sector. Visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.