Caroline Hill, Head of Sustainability at Land Securities, blogs on how the company is supporting the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy after joining RE100.
Later this year, world leaders will be gathering in Paris to try and reach a universal climate agreement. These talks are widely seen as the last chance to reach a global deal to avoid increases in global temperatures going beyond 2 degrees – the tipping point at which climate scientists believe the damage of global warming will be irreversible. Predictions of this beyond 2 degrees world include severe consequences for ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. The physical impacts of climate change will vary from country to country, but in our globalised economy, no country will be spared. For example, in the UK, impacts will include increased extreme weather events such as flooding and heat waves, not to mention disruption to supply chains, flows of people and investment.
This is clearly of great relevance to the property industry. For example, in how we design and locate our buildings to take account of these changing weather patterns; and also how we ensure security of supply for the materials used in construction. Forward thinking companies will not wait for government legislation to mandate action in moving towards a low carbon economy. Rather, the time is now for assessing climate risk and taking action to future proof our industry.
At Land Securities, we believe it is important for business leaders to show support for a global agreement in Paris and to demonstrate our commitment to working with others in our sector to transition to a low carbon world. That is why I am delighted that we are among a number of companies that have come together through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and We Mean Business coalition to publically commit to action. As part of this, Land Securities has committed to:
- Report climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty;
- Responsible corporate engagement in climate policy; and
- Procure 100% of electricity from renewable sources (RE100)
Our approach is both to move to renewable sources and to also reduce our consumption through active energy management across our portfolio.
Looking at our move to renewables, we have today signed a new contract with Smartest Energy which will provide 100% renewable electricity to all of our buildings as of April 2016. Our choice in moving to Smartest was dictated not only by securing energy for our customers at a competitive price and with great service levels, but also by the need to provide green energy fully backed by REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin), the certification system to ensure electricity has been produced from renewable sources.
Whilst moving to a green electricity contract is clearly a crucial step in our transition away from carbon, we have also for many years given great priority to reducing our energy requirements through active management in all our sites. This led to an 8% reduction in our energy consumption within our like-for-like portfolio last year compared to a 2013/14 baseline year. Last year, we also took the decision to formalise this commitment through adopting the ISO50001 energy management system so that we can demonstrate our leading systems in this area. Earlier this month we received formal certification that we have met the requirements of the standard, and are currently the only large property company to have achieved this.
But we aren’t staying still. For example, we are currently conducting feasibility studies across several of our retail sites to assess whether there is opportunity to retrofit photovoltaics and reduce our grid dependency. All of these changes are part of our ambition to be a sustainability leader and a recognition of the role we can play in supporting the UK’s transition to being a low carbon economy.