September 14, 2016
A much publicised but occasionally troubled green city in the United Arab Emirates without light switches or water taps has much to teach people around the world about saving energy and precious resources, claims a new study from researchers at Birmingham University. With its low-rise and energy efficient buildings, smart metering, excellent public transport and extensive use of renewable energy, the 2,000 citizens of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, are living in a place which is a ‘green’ example to city planners around the globe, claims the report. There are no light switches or water taps in Masdar City. Movement sensors control lighting and water in order to cut electricity and water consumption by 51 percent and 55 percent respectively. Masdar is a mixed use development that is the world’s first city designed to be ‘zero carbon’ and ‘zero waste’. Masdar City is a large-scale mixed use development which lies 17 kilometres south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi.
September 14, 2016
London’s property sector has been resilient following the EU referendum, with commercial property rents remaining strong over the summer, though over the next few months the overall direction of the market is likely to become clearer. This is according to the latest CBI/CBRE London Business Survey, which has found that businesses want the city’s mayor to play a leading role in influencing Brexit negotiations, particularly in driving improvements to the city’s transport infrastructure. Two thirds (67 percent) wish to see upgrades to the existing London Underground network, whilst over a half (55 percent) want a commitment from City Hall to start building Crossrail 2 and one third (31 percent) hope for greater investment in the capital’s road network. Unsurprisingly, uncertainty over the UK’s role in the EU is the most significant cause for concern (75 percent of firms), followed by retaining the best people for the job (49 percent) and a lack of appropriately skilled staff (44 percent).
September 13, 2016
The future of London is the subject of a new and wide ranging collection of essays from Think Tank Localis. It includes contributions from the likes of Boris Johnson, Terry Farrell, Peter Bazalgette and Justine Roberts. Its core theme is that while London has established itself as one of the world’s great financial and cultural powerhouses over the last thirty years, it now faces a number of new challenges and intransigent problems that it must address in a new globalised era. These have taken on a new perspective as the UK prepares to negotiate a new relationship with the EU, something which the report repeats was not the choice of Londoners, but which did perhaps reveal a neglect of the rest of the UK as the Government focused too much attention and investment on the capital. So, while the report focuses on London it also tries to create a vision of a London better integrated with the needs of the rest of the UK and based on a new partnership with the EU.
September 6, 2016
Blink and you’ll miss some news item on Brexit, so here’s just some of the stuff we’ve picked up on the last few days. It’s hard to imagine that any of these stories might be woven into some sort of coherent narrative, especially when the Prime Minister has yet to announce any details or timescales for the UK’s mooted withdrawal from the EU, if not the Single Market. Some of the ifs and buts are laid out in this excellent blog, but the reality is that nobody really knows what will happen and, as the writer suggests, the UK may not have the expertise to deliver a coherent withdrawal anyway. In the meantime, there appears to be some sense that business is returning to normal. The key CIPS/Markit survey of business confidence has bounced back both quickly and strongly and there are other signs that not all is doom and gloom. That said, there are clear signs that overseas partners are spooked amid the uncertainty even though the still low Sterling exchange rate continues to make the UK attractive.
September 5, 2016
Most Londoners think tall buildings should only be built in areas like the City and Canary Wharf, and that there should be limits on how high they can be, according to an IPSOS Mori survey carried out on behalf of the Skyline Campaign. The findings come after Westminster Council controversially gave the green light for a 30 storey tower to be built in Paddington, and show stark differences in the views of Londoners in the inner and outer boroughs about how this new generation of tall buildings is affecting the Capital. The survey of more than 500 Londoners finds almost half (49 percent) of residents of inner London boroughs think that the 270 tall buildings planned, proposed, or under construction in London is too many. This contrasts with 34 percent of people in outer boroughs who say the same. Latest data released after the research was conducted indicates more than 400 new tall buildings are planned, proposed or under construction.
September 5, 2016
Our aim at BESA is to raise awareness about indoor air quality and encourage more people to be mindful of the best solutions for particular buildings and building types to ultimately promote a healthy workplace environment. The BESA revealed the results of a recent YouGov survey (released on 17 August 2016), which looked into views of office workers and their attitudes toward indoor air pollution in office environments across the UK. The aim of the study was to illustrate attitudes, behaviours and perceptions in order to understand how office workers feel, think and act. Our survey, combined with our ongoing research and collaborations, shows us that opening a window isn’t always the most effective solution to accessing ‘fresh air’ in offices. BESA wholeheartedly agree with Mark Eltringham’s comment that clean, fresh air, is the best way to ventilate a workplace environment. Our survey was commissioned to highlight that in the urban, office environment, this is not always possible.
August 18, 2016
There has been a reduction in demand for office space in Dubai over the past six months, as the ripple effect of the oil price collapse and the subsequent economic slowdown in the rest of the Gulf reverberates across the emirate’s commercial property market. As firms retrench staff and reconsider their future strategy in the wake of global economic challenges, decisions to acquire, expand or move office space have commonly been put on hold according to Cluttons’ latest Dubai Office Market Bulletin. This has resulted in an exaggeration of the seasonal summer slowdown throughout late Q2 and early Q3 2016. Cluttons’ research also highlights that, the general lack of rental growth is unlikely to change in the short-term. Across the market as a whole, rents are not expected to fall much further, particularly as they are at a point where they are considered to be fair market value and landlords appear unwilling to lease below a certain level.
August 5, 2016
The UK commercial property sector is now larger than at any time since before the last recession, claims a new analysis from the Investment Property Forum. It has risen nearly 50 percent since its lowest point in 2009 and is now valued at £871 billion, an increase of around 11 percent. The amount of stock actually shrank last year, according to the study, with the increase in overall value arising from price rises. The previous highest valuation the IPF puts on the market was £865 billion in 2006. All is not good news however as a second report from the same organisation which explores sentiment in the market following the Brexit vote confirms there is a great deal of uncertainty in the market. This is particularly acute in the London market which makes up over a third of the nation’s total and is increasingly dominated by foreign owners who may have a negative response to the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Intriguingly, the report found that total floorspace marginally declined over 2015 and has only increased by 0.9 percent since the market high of 2006.
August 2, 2016
Investment and hiring intentions remain relatively robust among London’s leading firms, despite the Brexit vote, claims a new analysis by the CBI and CBRE. Over two fifths (41 percent) of the 186 firms surveyed after the Referendum said that they planned to maintain their investment plans, with one in ten (9 percent) planning on actually increasing their plans. The demand for property from occupiers and investors also appears to remain strong. However, 16 percent of firms said they will freeze investment plans, whilst a fifth (21 percent) think they will reduce them. Half of businesses (50 percent) plan to continue to hire after the Referendum, with less than a third (29 percent) not planning to do so and 12 percent planning on reducing staff numbers. Many firms though are still considering their response to the Referendum and will be looking for a clear plan from the Government and City Hall to maintain the openness of London’s economy.
August 1, 2016
The changing energy demands of British cities are revealed in a new report published by Smart Energy GB and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The report’s central claim is that urbanisation, economic growth and new technology will drive cities to meet their energy demands with the greater use of sustainable and renewable sources. The authors claim that this is the first time that predictions about increases in energy demand in the UK have been analysed and published on a city level. The Powering Future Cities report suggests that this growing demand will primarily be driven by urban population growth, economic growth and a predicted surge in use of new technology, including electric vehicles. The report coincides with an announcement that the World Green Building Council has created a new partnership with the World Resources Institute-led Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) to fast-track improvements to energy efficiency within buildings.
July 25, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Mark Eltringham on the narrow focus in descriptions of the ‘office of the future’; Maciej Markowski argues the need to keep an open mind on the open plan office; and Neil Franklin finds the ethics of everyday working life are the subject of two new surveys. News of a new device that can store more data than ever; many employees believe their workplace is not making best use of latest technology; and a new research report focuses on smart cities and the future of the built environment. Public Health England advises employers to set up vaping rooms for e-cigarette users; Brexit won’t lead to crash in commercial property say experts; and young workers are ill prepared for office politics. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
July 18, 2016
Global law firm Osborne Clarke has released its fourth research report on smart cities and the future of the built environment. The new edition addresses a number of key issues related to the built environment and poses what it suggests are the two key questions: How can the built environment become smarter? And what are the challenges and obstacles that might prevent this from happening? The report looks at case studies cross Europe and interviews experts in an attempt to discover how smart built environments ‘leverage data, new technology and innovative and collaborative thinking to deliver services that benefit citizens’. The report concludes that a fundamental shift in thinking is already well underway but it is patchy and still faces a large number of major obstacles, not least a silo mentality in decision making which restricts the ability of organisations to innovate and achieve results across a broad base of objectives.