The Westminster Property Association (WPA) and Westminster City Council have jointly pledged to work together to develop a Sustainable City Charter to help lead our built environment towards a greener future.
The Charter will be launched in 2022 following further research and consultation on its contents and implementation.
Our environment is facing an unparalleled crisis as we reach a critical point in addressing the climate emergency. Here in Westminster, our ability to respond to this will depend on how far we can reduce the energy demand of our buildings, a leading contributor to carbon emissions from the city, as well as the impact of building use on the wider environment.
By coming together as building owners, operators and users, we can make a real change towards a greener, healthier city and play our part in achieving net zero carbon by 2040.
The proposed Charter will set out the activities organisations can undertake to reduce their operational environmental impact. It will build on existing experience and provide best practice, guidance and toolkits to drive sustainability through the way buildings across the city are maintained and used. It will align ambitions and aspirations on climate and sustainability, promote collaboration between all building users in Westminster, and start to provide more detailed data and insights.
The Sustainable City Charter is being recognised as one of a suite of actions outlined in the Climate Emergency Action Plan for Westminster to achieve our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2040. It represents a commitment to delivering an improved, greener and healthier built environment for all.
Together we want to help ensure we can maximise the collective value and potential of all partners, across the city and potentially beyond it, towards wide scale, positive environmental and climate action. The Charter will be launched in 2022 following further research and consultation on its contents and implementation.
Together, Westminster Property Association and Westminster City Council commit to joint working to deliver the Charter, based on the following five core principles:
- Existing buildings: It is through improving the management and operation of existing buildings where there are the greatest opportunities, as well as the greatest need, on the journey to net zero. The Charter will therefore be distinctly separate from planning policies, which are the vehicle for compelling the highest standards of sustainable new development.
- Flexible: As the circumstances of individual buildings vary, the way in which the Charter’s objectives will be promoted will vary from signatory to signatory, building to building. For owners this could include measures such as greater use of green leases and similar terms, or promoting refurbishments and retrofits that reduce energy use. For occupiers this could be through agreeing to use the property in ways that maximise its energy efficiency.
- Broad-based: In order to promote its use by as wide a range of occupiers, building owners and developers as possible, it will be jointly owned and driven by the WPA and Westminster City Council, and developed through a strong collaboration with stakeholders.
- Voluntary. Signatories will publicly commit to promoting sustainable practices and initiatives in the use of buildings and operations, across a range of key areas. They will be responsible for monitoring and sharing progress on their implementation.
- Public: By publicly endorsing the Charter, signatories will be expressing their commitment and support for improving the way in which property in Westminster is used, whilst raising expectations and standards. They will also seek to make better and more detailed information available on matters such as energy use, to help develop a collective understanding of patterns of energy use in Westminster.
Our intention is that owners and occupiers will actively seek to sign up to these commitments in order to be among the list of responsible signatories. Importantly, this will involve the sharing of knowledge and best practices to help all building owners and occupiers across Westminster to ensure all stakeholders can adopt/benefit from the experiences of others.
What areas will the Charter address?
The contents of the Charter will be refined and developed in early 2022 during consultation between the WPA, Westminster City Council and stakeholders. At this stage, it is expected that it will address matters including, but not limited to:
- Consolidation: Freight and waste and freight consolidation and shared supplier schemes, to reduce vehicle movements and to improve air quality, and to make use of suppliers with strong sustainability credentials
- Zero emission vehicles: To encourage the use of zero emission vehicles where possible, and servicing companies that are seeking to reduce local vehicular emissions
- Sustainable procurement: To encourage the carbon impact of goods and services to be taken into account and given weight when making procurement decisions, and to prioritise localised procurement, from within Greater London
- Energy: Reducing operational energy through energy saving measures, promoting improved building efficiency, including when building plant or fabric is upgraded. Promoting the transition away from gas fed heating systems and the use of fossil fuels, and encouraging the use of REGO certified energy for electricity supplies.
- Waste: Reducing waste and improving waste management, including avoiding the use of landfill, promoting recycling and circular economy principles, improved separation of waste streams. Reducing or removing single use plastic.
- Air quality: Reducing vehicle fleets and transitioning to zero emission vehicles where vehicles remain. Promoting sustainable travel patterns. Promoting interventions to improve internal air quality.
- Transparency: Promoting wider dissemination of data around usage patterns of buildings, including topics such as energy and fuel, waste, servicing and deliveries. The promotion and adoption of the Charter, and the use of the guidance and best practice within it.
Who has supported work so far?
The Sustainable City Charter concept has been developed initially by the ‘Zero Emissions Group’, a group of property owners and business group representatives which has worked closely with Westminster City Council on issues around freight, waste, air quality and public realm. This includes The Crown Estate, Grosvenor, Howard de Walden, Capco, Portman Estate, Derwent London, Shaftesbury, the Pollen Estate, Landsec and multiple BIDs (represented by NWEC).
In order to expand the remit and scope of the Charter’s objectives going forward the WPA, in partnership with Westminster City Council, will work with all owners, business and occupier groups across Westminster to help support the built environment’s journey to net zero.
If you are not currently a WPA member but are interested in getting involved, please contact Westminster City Council at email@example.com.
Many of the larger property owners have already started to implement aspects of the proposed Charter’s outline aims. Some examples of initiatives from WPA board members include:
Commitment to Net Zero
2030: Derwent London, Landsec, Make, Deloitte, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Savills, British Land, Great Portland Estates
The Crown Estate has been working closely with these businesses across its London portfolio for over a decade, consolidating multiple individual trips into fewer combined journeys – helping to tackle congestion in the capital, improve local air quality and support its customers. This includes a delivery consolidation scheme for retailers on Regent Street – offering its retail customers access to a single accessible consolidation centre, located just outside London’s congestion zone and a waste consolidation scheme to streamline waste and recycling collections for over 200 customers.
Zero emission vehicles
Oxford Properties and Deloitte have both committed to switching their entire vehicle fleet to be electrically powered.
Deloitte and Grosvenor have begun to work with their supply chain to achieve sustainability targets
- Landsec has achieved its target of using 100% renewable electricity across its portfolio. Landsec has created a £135m investment programme of which a significant portion is going towards its assets in Westminster. The fund will be used to finance a series of initiatives to reduce operational energy use and to move to cleaner sources of energy
- 85% of the electricity used by Savills is from green tariffs
- Shaftesbury reduced its electricity consumption by 16% in 2020
- Deloitte and Oxford Properties have made commitments to 100% renewable
- Oxford Properties has installed 200,000 sq ft of rooftop solar, with a target of one million sq ft by 2024
- Savills has delivered 2.6MW of solar energy across its portfolio
- Grosvenor has committed to retrofitting its portfolio across Belgravia and Mayfair
- The Portman Estate has conducted retrofits across its portfolio to achieve key sustainability ratings:
- Sustainable homes level 4 achieved at 23-25 Castlereagh Street
- Improved building fabric performance at Z Hotels, Gloucester Place
- ‘Passivhaus EnerPHit’ at 2 Gloucester Place Mews
- BREEAM Outstanding at 1-9 Seymour Street
- The Howard de Walden Estate aims to reduce emissions across its properties by 70% through retrofitting
- Dolphin Living has undertaken a boiler replacement programme, the refurbishment of 11 properties at Grove Court, installation of smart meters, and replacing doors at 98 apartments to be draft-proof
British Land has committed to financing the retrofitting of its existing portfolio through a self-imposed levy on new developments. This compliments a commitment to make 100% of new developments developed after April 2020 net zero carbon
- Landsec has diverted 100% of waste from landfills
- Shaftesbury has diverted 88% of waste from landfill, and achieved an overall waste reduction of 42%
Grosvenor has committed to diverting 100% of waste from landfills by 2030
- UN Principles of Responsible Investment have been subscribed to by Savills and the Church of England, and Sustainable Development Goals by many other firms, including JLL and Shaftesbury
- Shaftesbury has committed to achieving BREEAM Very Good for any refurbishment project worth over £1m. From 2019-20, the percentage of buildings across its portfolio with an EPC rating of at least E increased from 81% to 83%
Revolving green credit facilities:
- Derwent London launched an RCF worth £300m in Q3 2019, available specifically for green projects with a positive environmental impact that comply with Derwent’s ‘Green Finance Framework’
- Great Portland Estates signed a £450m ESG-linked RCF