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Action demanded

City offices ‘well behind’ meeting net zero targets

Former Bank of Scotland Glasgow office

Many offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh are listed

Offices in Scotland’s biggest big cities will struggle to meet net zero targets unless there is significant action to upgrade them, according to new analysis.

A report, Sustainability and Value in the Regions, concluded that just 5% of offices in Edinburgh and 11% in Glasgow have a BREEAM rating – a key sustainability assessment – of Good to Outstanding. 

The report, by property agency JLL, also found that as yet there are no completed office developments in Edinburgh or Glasgow that have achieved the UK Green Building Council’s embodied and operational net zero carbon standard. 

The office footprint of businesses with science-based sustainability targets in Edinburgh and Glasgow has more than doubled in the past three years, to 341,530 sq ft in Edinburgh and 420,413 sq ft in Glasgow.

However, with Edinburgh and Glasgow councils both committed to net zero status by 2030, the research points to a need for significant refurbishment and retrofitting.

Elaine Rossall, head of UK offices research at JLL, said: “COP26 has reinforced how important the next 10 years are for future of the planet. The built environment accounts for around 40% of all carbon emissions but is even higher in many cities.

“If we’re going to achieve net zero status by 2030, our cities and commercial centres must change or risk undermining any regional efforts.

“The research indicates just how far short of those targets some regional office markets will be if, in addition to ongoing investment in new low carbon stock, the vast majority of existing offices aren’t improved via refurbishment or retrofit.”

Alasdair Humphery, head of Scotland at JLL, said: “Demand for sustainable office space in Scotland is already outstripping supply. If this is not addressed with the urgency it warrants, we are unlikely to hit our net zero targets, both at a council and national level. 


“We must also consider the makeup of the Central Belt’s city centres. Edinburgh’s World Heritage sites cover almost two square miles in the city centre with more than 75% of these buildings being listed.

“It’s a similar picture in Glasgow where there are 1,800 buildings that are deemed of special architectural or historical interest.

“Despite the challenges in retrofitting older buildings, investors are driving the agenda and sustainability is now frequently at the forefront of decision-making. It’s critical that office stock keeps up with these green ambitions and that our cities, despite their historical importance, aren’t held back by low-performing assets.”

Hillington Park achieves rating

Scotland’s largest trading estate has boosted its environmental credentials with a four star rating in a global sustainability initiative.  

Hillington Park, which is owned by Frasers Property UK, received the rating from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), which measures the environmental, social and governance performance of real estate.  The four out of five rating placed Frasers Property UK first amongst its competitors. 

A number of factors contributed to the rating at Hillington Park including Frasers Property UK’s target of net zero carbon in all landlord-controlled areas by 2030 and a commitment to BREEAM sustainability certification for all new developments.  

The latest West 100 and 200 development at Hillington Park, which is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2022, is targeting a high quality BREEAM ‘Very Good’ scheme with a sustainable energy-efficient specification.   

The redevelopment of warehousing on Carnegie Road has been designed with improved energy efficiency at its core. 

Modelling by independent energy consultants Carbon Futures has estimated that the proposed installation of enhanced insulation, LED lighting, air-source heat pump efficient heating and removal of gas appliances, will reduce energy consumption by 79% compared to the building’s current condition.   

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