ProLogis, Lend Lease, Legal & General and Segro join sustainable buildings task group

Developers and fund managers have joined forces to thrash out a road map to help new developments achieve a zero carbon rating by 2019.

The managing directors of ProLogis, Lend Lease and Legal & General Property, together with the chief executive of Segro, are among 10 senior property figures who have joined the sustainable buildings task group, convened by the UK Green Building Council.

The group, which was set up in response to forthcoming legislation, met for the first time this month. Chancellor Alistair Darling said in his March Budget speech that the government wanted private sector development to be zero carbon from 2019. A consultation paper was expected from Communities and Local Government this spring but the timetable has slipped to the autumn.

The group hopes to be able to influence government policy and has invited officials from Communities and Local Government to attend its meetings. Housebuilders have already been given a target of zero carbon residential development by 2016, using the Code for Sustainable Homes. The commercial property group will make recommendations for a parallel Code for Sustainable Buildings.

‘I felt it was important for us to be involved, as a landlord with £11bn of property,’ explained Bill Hughes, managing director at Legal & General Property. ‘The group is looking to produce some thoughts and steer policy that has some very high goals.’

Hughes believes any code for commercial buildings should address the energy performance of the existing stock. ‘It’s important to deal with retrofitting,’ he said.

Ken Hall, managing director of ProLogis, agreed. ‘The biggest issue is with the existing stock, which ranges from average to appalling [in energy use],’ he said. ‘We’ll be taxing ourselves on how to find solutions. It can appear quite uneconomical.’

The group will meet a further five times before presenting its findings in March. Three working parties have also been set up, which will meet fortnightly, to examine issues such as whether green buildings carry extra value. ‘[Green issues] will become a more important factor in how buildings are valued because of the impact on rentability, modelled void rates and the decreased pace of obsolescence,’ said Hughes.

‘Investors are far more enthusiastic about green buildings, the next step is to recognise that they are worth more,’ added Hall.

Paul King, chief executive of the Green Building Council, said: ‘By March, we hope to have some clear recommendations on the way forward and, hopefully, we’ll have seen the government’s consultation, too.’