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How we’re creating one of London’s first carbon neutral workplaces
19 May 2021
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The built environment is responsible for nearly 40% of all global carbon emissions and consumes about 36% of all energy. Of the 352 million tons of carbon produced by the UK each year, the average person contributes about 5 tons and the typical 100,000 sq ft office some 400 to 500 tons. For a sense of scale, a ton of CO2 is the size of a giant beach ball 10 metres in diameter. The stakes are high and buildings have to be a focus of our efforts to create a low-carbon economy.

The UK has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. TBC.London’s developer FORE Partnership is leading the way, committing to making all its buildings carbon neutral by 2025, and TBC.London will be one of London’s first carbon neutral workplaces.

But what does carbon neutral actually mean, and how are we doing it?

A building is responsible for CO2 emissions from construction right through to the end of its operational life.

Producing new building materials releases CO2, uses significant energy, and depletes Mother Nature of her reserves. Indeed, if Cement was a country, it would be the third worst emitter after the US and China. Steel would be number four. These embodied emissions can account for a third of a building’s lifetime carbon footprint.

TBC.London uses the existing building’s structure, halving the embodied carbon versus a new build. By refurbishing instead of building from scratch, TBC.London is preventing 6,365 tons of CO2 from being unnecessarily emitted, equivalent to 32 years of operational energy.

We are also re-purposing other elements from the original building, such as bricks, and upcycled soft furnishings. In construction, we have committed to divert at least 95% of waste from landfills and recycle it.

Another step to cutting a building’s carbon footprint is minimising the energy required to run it.

Optimising insulation materials, putting in the most efficient glass and ensuring airtightness helps to significantly reduce TBC.London’s heating and cooling needs. Together with smart building management tech and ultra-efficient lighting that consumes less that 4 watts/m2, the result is a low energy intensity building that aims to use less than 75 kWh/m2/ year, compared to around 200 kWh/m2/year in an average office.

Our solar panels will produce energy on-site that drives our lifts and powers our lighting. By using heat pumps, the building has 100% electric heating and cooling systems with no fossil fuels, avoiding one of the most common carbon sources in buildings. The electricity we do buy will come solely from certified renewable sources including solar, wind, and biomass.

TBC.London’s design is driving a massive change.

We have reduced CO2 emissions by 63% (342 tons per year) compared to the original building. That’s equivalent to taking 74 cars off the road. The building’s Energy Performance Certificate rating should be improved from D to A and we aim to reach BREEAM’s top certification of “Outstanding” placing TBC.London among the top 2% of buildings in the world.

For the approximately 95 tonnes of CO2 per year that we simply can’t avoid, we will use smart offsets, partnering with the Woodland Trust to plant mixed native species forest annually on designated UK land.

We will work with our tenants to reduce their own carbon footprints, and insist on “green lease” clauses that frame the ways in which we will bring them along on our net zero journey.

Eliminating and off-setting all CO2 emitted after completion earns TBC.London the badge of net-zero carbon in operation, something we’re incredibly proud of.