The first UKREiiF conference held recently in Leeds made it clear that sustainability is absolutely a priority for businesses, but for a broad range of reasons.
In an economy with a highly-skilled young workforce, and where unemployment has recently fallen to the lowest level in nearly 50 years, companies are constantly looking at ways they can stand out to attract the best talent.
One of the statistics that I heard referenced repeatedly during UKREiiF was from a report by JLL, which found that 70% of millennials would prefer to work in a company with a strong sustainability agenda.
This, coupled with the increased competition for talent, has certainly played a part in influencing employers to pay more attention to how the offices they occupy are not only marketed in terms of their sustainability, but also how their design impacts performance in terms of energy consumption whilst occupied.
The market needs to keep up with this fundamental shift in working habits. While employers should be looking at ways of making the office more attractive in order to stand out to prospective candidates, landlords and developers also need to adapt in order to attract the best occupiers – and having a strong sustainability offer can do that.
This is an approach that MEPC has prides itself on. At Wellington Place we know that placing a greater emphasis on sustainability is not only beneficial for allowing us to meet the government’s net zero targets, but also for ensuring continued economic growth and inward investment into the region by bringing new names to the city.
In turn, we have found that by creating sustainable buildings and spaces, we are also creating a sustainable community where people not only work, but socialise, participate and enhance their own personal wellbeing. It’s a virtuous circle that we are rightly proud of. But we are not resting on our laurels.
Our latest developments, 11 and 12 Wellington Place, have recently acquired a NABERS Design Reviewed Target of Five Stars, making them the first in Yorkshire, and only the fourth in the UK, to hold this accreditation.
The BREEAM Outstanding buildings will entirely run on renewable energy, meaning they meet the UK Green Building Council’s standards for operational net zero carbon, and will incorporate the latest in smart building technology, as well as offering a range of sustainable transport options including EV changing points and immediate access to the Cycle Super Highway.
The key difference between the NABERS accreditation and other sustainability credentials is that NABERS provides a benchmark for a building’s energy efficiency when in operation, rather than just during construction. It is fast becoming the gold standard for assessing operational efficiency across the UK because it allows for fair comparison on an industry-wide scale.
Securing this accreditation was no small feat and required large-scale collaboration with key partners including Arup, Gardiner & Theobald, TP Bennett, Mainer Associates and Wates Group.
It has been hugely important for demonstrating our commitment to future-proofed, sustainable development, which in turn will have a positive knock-on effect for 11 and 12’s occupiers, allowing them to offer prospective employees an office which stands for more than just platitudes, and which can categorically be evidenced as having positive environmental benefits.
I believe that if we are to truly move forward with both the levelling up and sustainability agendas, we all need to put a serious focus on sustainability – not only to attract discerning millennials, but to ensure that everyone is truly doing their bit. Pioneering accreditations like NABERS will be key in enabling the region to do just that.