Design for Performance is reaching out to industry stakeholders
The Design for Performance initiative led by Verco has featured in a couple of industry engagement events this month. First on 6th March at the annual EcoBuild show at the Excel in London Docklands, there was a seminar entitled Design for Performance - Securing Commercial Buildings. The session was chaired by Sarah Ratcliffe, Programme Director at the BBP, and the panellists were Robert Cohen, Technical Director, Verco, Abigail Dean, Head of Sustainability at TH Real Estate, Duncan Price, Director - Sustainability, Buro Happold and Andy Stanton, Infrastructure and Sustainability Manager, Transport for London. The seminar underlined the benefits of commercial office buildings which perform as intended: as well as meeting environmental objectives, these buildings can be more attractive to tenants who seek better working environments for their employees. Evidence from Australia shows that these buildings have lower voids, can charge rent premiums and secure higher financial returns for their developers and investors.
Secondly on 14th March, a workshop organised by the ESG Committee of the BCO reported on the programme of Design for Performance pilot studies which are aiming to demonstrate that commercial office buildings can achieve the energy efficiency promised by their designers, heralding great changes to the new office market.
For the last two years, selected new developments in the UK have been replicating approaches that have driven the prime office market in Australia for over a decade. Performance outcomes are set from early design, buildings are engineered so that their base building energy use is measurable and achieving the target rating is business critical.
In a virtuous circle, corporate tenants in Australia pay a premium for a better rated building – it is deemed to be better designed and constructed, and better maintained and operated. The promise is also a better indoor environment, likely higher staff productivity and reduced absenteeism, lower overall costs of occupancy and an end to wasteful plant oversizing.
At this workshop, speakers Robert Cohen from Verco, who leads the pilot studies, and Sarah Ratcliffe, the Better Buildings Partnership Programme Director, described how better performing new buildings bring ‘green alpha’ to developers and investors. They also argued that energy efficient buildings with verified performance would enhance the UK’s competitiveness in a global market for investment flows and location choices and directly support the Paris Agreement. An ensuing debate considered how Design for Performance might be included in the next update of the BCO Guide.