Landsec to spend £135m to decarbonise its estate

Developer Landsec has today announced plans to invest £135m on its existing estate of buildings to drive its transition to net zero.

The fund will be used to finance a series of initiatives over the coming nine years to reduce Landsec’s carbon footprint and drive innovation and best practice across the wider industry.

This will involve retrofitting more solar PV, and replacing boilers with air source heat pumps and upgrading building management systems.

Its investment equates to around 1% of portfolio value and will enable the developer to stay ahead of the future non-domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which require an EPC ‘B’ certification by 2030 as well as other regulatory requirements. 

Alongside this investment, Landsec remains committed to designing and building net-zero buildings with The Forge, its first net zero building, on track to complete in October next year having achieved to date a 25% reduction in embodied carbon from the initial design stage.

It is expected Landsec’s overall programme will see 24,000 tonnes of carbon emissions removed from Landsec’s operations – equivalent to over 35,000 return flights from London to New York.

Landsec’s decarbonisation plan

Optimising building management systems, using innovative Artificial Intelligence technologiesEngaging customers on energy efficiency to drive down consumptionReplacing gas-fired boilers with electric systems such as Air Source Heat Pumps.Investing in renewable energy including adding onsite renewable capacity through more solar PV panels

Mark Allan, Landsec CEO said: “Our net zero transition investment plan is a significant commitment to ensure that Landsec delivers against its science-based target to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030.

“We’re investing across our entire estate because we want to remain at the forefront of everything the property sector is doing to respond to the climate crisis.

“Through these actions, we’ll be supporting the current and future needs of our customers, communities and stakeholders as we help them transition to a low carbon world.”

The built environment is estimated to represent 40% of total carbon emissions globally.

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Green schemes to be focus of infrastructure spending

Advisors at the National Infrastructure Commission have announced the sectors that will “sit at the heart”of its next major assessment of the country’s investment priorities.

Key areas will include identifying the infrastructure needed for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage to decarbonise parts of the economy, improving recycling rates and surface transport within and between cities and towns.

The commission will undertake focused work to help address unanswered questions around the net zero transition, such as defining the limits of heat pumps for home heating, the role of hydrogen in heat and the future of the gas grid and exploring ways of reducing congestion and future demand on roads.

All sectors will need to take the opportunities offered by new digital technologies to cut costs, enhance service quality and improve resilience.

A baseline report published today to prepare for 2023’s Assessment surveys the current state of the digital, energy, flood resilience, water and wastewater, waste and transport sectors.

It paints a mixed picture of UK infrastructure, with networks performing well in some areas but with significant work necessary in others to meet the challenges posed by climate change, environmental decline and behaviour change. It notes:

The UK has made significant progress on gigabit broadband rollout and there is wide reach of 4G mobile connectivity, though there is further to go to avoid any places being left behind;Major strides in decarbonising electricity generation, with around 40% of electricity generated from renewable sources, though there is still a need for substantial further reductions to reach near zero emissions by 2035;Limited progress so far on the transition to low carbon heating for homes, with a ‘stop start’ approach to energy efficiency policy;Emissions from transport have not been declining despite improvements in engine efficiency and although electric vehicle charge point numbers are increasing, the pace needs to pick up to enable a transition to electric vehicles in the 2020s and 2030s;Despite increased government funding, there remains a continued risk of flooding to more than five million properties in England – including more than three million at risk of surface water flooding – and flood resilience is the area commanding lowest public confidence in the Commission’s social research;While the number of serious pollution incidents caused by water companies has decreased from 2002, serious pollution incidents from water and sewerage have plateaued since 2014 at an unacceptably high level;Overall recycling rates have also plateaued and greenhouse gas emissions from waste have begun to rise since 2014 due to incineration for energy generation;While the public are largely satisfied with national roads overall, there are wide variations on rail performance, public concern over the condition of local roads is high and urban transport connectivity is poor in many places;A continuing reliance on private cars means congestion has a big impact on travel within city regions, particularly at peak times, while in many instances driving remains a quicker option than public transport for travel both within and between cities.

The nine projects set out in the baseline report address three strategic themes the Commission has decided will frame the second National Infrastructure Assessment: reaching net zero, reducing environmental impacts and building resilience to climate change, and helping level up communities across the UK.

The Assessment will set out costed policy recommendations to government over the next 10 – 30 years. It will explicitly consider the affordability of the required investment and how costs and savings will be spread across different groups in society and between consumers and taxpayers.

The first Assessment, published in 2018, led to government publishing the UK’s first ever National Infrastructure Strategy, which committed to implementing the majority of the Commission’s recommendations including the creation of the UK Infrastructure Bank.

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the Commission, said the three strategic themes “each pose urgent and wide ranging questions. Each draw broad political and public support for their end goal. Each, however, offer few quick wins or cheap fixes.”

He added: “We will now embark on this work – informed by input and insight from industry, political leaders, representative bodies, other organisations across the country and the public – and formulate policy recommendations to put forward to government.”

A Call for Evidence process has been launched, with interested stakeholders invited to submit data to the Commission to inform work on the topics it has identified. The Commission will also undertake sector events, regional visits and social research as it develops its recommendations.

It was also announced that the upper end of the ‘fiscal remit’ within which the Commission must formulate its recommendations has been lifted from 1.2% of GDP a year to 1.3% of GDP – potentially representing billions of pounds in additional investment in infrastructure over the long term.

Amey fined £600k after excavator overturns on rail job

Amey has been fined £600,000 after a road-rail excavator vehicle overturned during lifting work rebuilding Market Harborough station in Leicestershire.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court  heard that the operator had to be pulled from the cab but no one was seriously injured during the incident in the early hours of 21 October 2018.

An Office of Road and Rail investigation found there was a late change in the equipment being used on the night of the accident, which had inadequate lifting capacity for the planned works.

To compensate the length of the track to be lifted would need to be reduced from 30 to 20 feet.

But this critical change was not managed or communicated correctly and resulted in the track panels being cut to the original length of 30 feet – exceeding the capacity for the pair of replacement excavators.

When lifting started, the on-board safety systems showed that the excavators were overloaded. ORR found in its investigation that these warnings were ignored, and the safety systems were disabled to enable the work to continue.

ORR also found that radio-based communication system between the operators and the lifting supervisor developed a defect. Despite replacement equipment being available on site, work continued with the inadequate communications equipment.

These failures led to one of the two excavators becoming overloaded beyond its capacity and toppling onto its side, trapping a worker in the cab, when undertaking a tandem lift of a track panel later established to be 39ft long.

Several members of the lifting team and others in the nearby vicinity  kicked through the toughened glass windscreen to drag a worker clear of the cab.

ORR’s HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE, said: “The risks of failing to comply with the lifting regulations are well known throughout the industry and clearly foreseeable. In this case basic errors were made and it is by sheer luck that no one was seriously hurt.

“None of these failures to follow well established procedures, nor the isolation of safety systems on the excavators, were identified despite the presence of two senior members of staff on site during the night to manage the work.

“This meant Amey failed to take measures in order to adequately manage the risks presented when tandem lifting loads of the size and weight of those undertaken on 21 October 2018.”

Amey Rail Limited pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £600,000 and was also ordered to pay full costs of £15,119.49 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Willmott Dixon wins £21m West Sussex fire station

Willmott Dixon has been selected by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service to deliver a £21m fire service training centre and fire station.

It’s the latest in a series of ‘blue-light’ projects for Willmott Dixon and follows the handover last month of a new HQ for Merseyside Police in the centre of Liverpool.

The scheme in Horsham at a site off the A24 at Highwood Mill was procured using the SCF framework for on behalf of West Sussex County Council.

Russell Miller, director at Willmott Dixon’s Crawley office, said key features of the project included a combined training tower and breathing apparatus facility, and a realistic live-fire training area.

The high-tech premises will also include accommodation for new recruit training, an incident command training facility, realistic road traffic collision training area and rooms for digital simulations.

New facility will use renewable energy sources such as solar panels and air source heat pumps to provide heating, as well as electric vehicle charging points

Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “This is a fantastic commitment from the county council to the training and development of all of our staff, and one which is going to have an incredible impact upon our service. I cannot wait for work to begin to turn these plans into a fully functional fire station and training centre.”