The Bristol office market is in a “retrofit race” to ensure commercial property in the city will be in line with net zero targets for 2030, analysis has suggested.
A new report from property consultancy JLL has found just over 85% of the office stock in Bristol – equating to nearly 14 million sq ft – is at risk of not achieving the Government’s desired energy performance certificate rating (EPC B) within the next 10 years.
The study has concluded that “significant action” is needed to ensure upgrade and improve commercial real estate, in order for all non-domestic properties to have an EPC B rating by 2030.
The research, which assessed the office markets in eight major cities across the UK, estimated the national rate of repurposing commercial stock needs to hit 5% annually in order to help hit the UK’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal – more than double the levels of redevelopment seen in the last decade. It found that replacement rates in Bristol currently stand at around 0.9%.
Bristol City Council was the first local authority in the country to declare a climate emergency, and has committed to achieving net zero status by 2030.
JLL’s report highlighted major landmark office developments in Bristol city centre that have already been recognised for its sustainability credentials.
Among them was Aurora developed by Cubex in the Finzels Reach area, which is the first development outside of London to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by leading sustainability assessment method for buildings BREEAM.
The high-tech building features rooftop solar panels, intelligent LED lighting and water-saving technology to reduce running costs.
It is set to be joined by 116,000 sq ft workspace Halo, on the site of the former Avon Fire and Rescue headquarters, also in Finzels Reach, where law firm Osborne Clarke is among the confirmed occupiers of the forthcoming building.
Also targeting a BREEAM Outstanding accreditation is the EQ office development, an all-electric building with 100% green energy supply.
Set for completion in 2023 and at 20,000 sq ft EQ is the largest speculative office currently being built in the south of England, according to owner CEG.
JLL aid that sustainability is rising up the priority list for businesses, resulting in growing demand for office space with the highest environmental credentials against a backdrop of lack of supply.
Despite this it said the office footprint of regional firms with science-based sustainability targets has more than tripled in the past three years to almost 4.5 million sq ft across the UK.
Bristol accounted for just under 725,000 sq ft, making it the third largest among the cities in JLL’s sample.
Its report also found that just 10% of total existing office stock in Bristol is rated ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ by BREEAM – compared to 16% nationally.
Simon Peacock, lead director of the Bristol office of JLL, said while there were “exciting”, green office schemes coming forward, there was still a “long way to go” to ensure regional cities, including Bristol, meet their climate goals.
Mr Peacock said: “In the offices sector, we need to drastically improve the environmental credentials of existing buildings, drive up the rate of repurposing existing stock where appropriate and, when building new, keep challenging ourselves and raising the bar.”
As well as Bristol JLL’s research also looked at the office market in Thames Valley, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh. EPC analysis was excluded in the research carried out in the Scottish cities.
Elaine Rossall, head of UK offices research at JLL, said cities and commercial centres “must change” or risk undermining efforts to achieve net zero status in the 2030s
Ms Rossall said: “This 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.”
A recent report by Avison Young real estate company Avison Young found the office market in Bristol is poised for “a strong finish to the year” following a rise in demand for flexible workspace in the city centre in the third quarter of 2021.
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