New research from OISD suggests that there is an emerging and increasing demand for sustainable offices in the UK, but location, availability of stock and other factors continue to remain more important in determining occupiers’ final choice of office.
The research is important because, for the first time, it analyses actual occupier moves and the choice of office made in relation to sustainability, rather than 'preferred' or 'hypothetical' choices.
"This research shows that committed occupiers are placing an increasing emphasis on sustainability. However, it is clear that we are still trying to break out of a 'circle of blame' culture. A key implication of our research is that it will be vital for the discussions around the UK Green Building Council's Code for Sustainable Buildings to be made a reality: truly sustainable buildings are still a very small proportion of total stock and additional mandatory standards and financial incentives will be needed to drive change."
- Sustainability (as represented by explicit sustainability features in a building) is less important than location, availability of suitable stock, overall building quality and other factors in the final choice of office, but has become relatively more important in moves made over the last 12 months, or moves which were imminent.
- The most common sustainability features in office buildings are flexible space, efficient energy and utilities, effective monitoring systems, and sustainable waste and water systems.
- Occupiers who moved to a BREEAM-rated building, and were based in business sectors with strong environmental / corporate responsibility policies, place more emphasis on sustainability than other groups in the final choice of office, but 'location' and 'availability' remained paramount.
- Nearly one third of respondents had specified minimum levels of environmental performance in the agent's brief, but only three mentioned sustainability explicitly. The majority of those that had specified environmental standards tended to move to BREEAM-rated offices.
- Committed occupiers are likely to find and select office buildings with a greater number of sustainability features present, despite competition for such space, and a perception of market undersupply by occupiers.
- Some 42% of respondents suggested that they had assessed the business and financial case for sustainability in their overall choice of office, but the perceived, additional costs of sustainability remains a key barrier for occupiers.
- Organisational change is a key driver in the market for sustainable offices: occupiers want buildings which can help them achieve cultural change and encourage more sustainable practices. The key benefits of such buildings include a better public image, improved client relations, and improved employee retention.
The overall aim of the research was to determine the nature and extent of demand for sustainable offices in the UK. Based on 87 telephone and face-to-face interviews with 50 major corporate occupiers and other stakeholders, and detailed analyses of five case study buildings which were carried out during April-November 2008, the research examined the reasons behind actual office moves made within the previous two years, and assesses the extent to which sustainability played a role in the final choice of office building.
The research was funded through the Investment Property Forum (IPF) research programme and both summary and full reports are available from the IPF.
News Item Dated:
24 March 2009