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Business in top 10 UK cities produce 36m tonnes of carbon

15 November 2007

Property advisers GVA Grimley have published new research that details the relationship between CO2 emission levels and total commercial property floor space and ranks the overall carbon footprint impact of ten top UK business centres.

The research report, How Green is My City, reveals that whilst Sheffield has the largest overall carbon footprint impact (82 out of 100) and Edinburgh has the lowest (61 out of 100). Despite having the overall lowest ranking, Edinburgh actually produces the most amount of CO2 per sq m of commercial floor space (0.42 tonnes of CO2 per sq m) and Bristol produces the least amount at 0.22 tonnes of CO2 per sq m.

The overall rankings are based on an assessment of the cities relative carbon emission levels, waste production, intensity of space use, brownfield land development rates and quality of new property developments.

Business Tonne C02 per sq m stock:
Edinburgh 0.42
Sheffield 0.37
Glasgow 0.32
Cardiff 0.30
Newcastle 0.25
Manchester 0.24
Birmingham 0.23
Leeds 0.23
Liverpool 0.23
Bristol 0.22
London is not included in the report, however, statistics for comparison: Total tonnes of carbon output for London: 48,852,000; 0.30 tonne of business CO2 per sq m of commercial floor space. Total tonne per head: 6.8 tonnes (the average for the top ten cities is 7.1)

Space is being used more intensively in Edinburgh than the other cities, which results in less opportunity for it to reduce carbon emissions simply by reducing the amount of space. Conversely Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds, each have 0.23 tonne of carbon emissions per sq m and could improve carbon emission levels further by using their commercial floor space more intensively, ultimately improving their overall ranking relative to other cities. A reduction in these figures would further improve these cities overall sustainability performance.

How Green is My City also studies the pattern between business, domestic and transport emissions and highlights how the complex internal operations of cities influences carbon footprints. This shows that Sheffield has the highest emissions per employee at 9 tonnes, followed by Birmingham with 5.5 tonnes per employee. Glasgow and Edinburgh produce the least amount of carbon dioxide per employee at 4 tonnes.

The report acknowledges that carbon emissions are only a part of the picture and focuses on the total amount of waste produced per head revealing that the highest waste levels are in Newcastle, Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds which produce over 460kg waste per person. Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool produce the least amount of waste per person at less than 435kg. However, the cities need to reduce their waste per person to 225kg by 2020, which will be a major challenge.

Simon Reynolds, Partner at GVA Grimley said, "This report shows that in order to reach the Government's targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 2050 we have a long way to go. Despite the reports weighted ranking, profound changes are required both in terms of how people and business operate as well as the development of the built environment. With proposed changes to the Climate Change Bill in the pipeline it is clear we need to lead the way in the UK and start to get our own cities in order to set the example for nations such as the USA, India and China to follow."

For a full copy of the research please contact Jim Whelan in GVA Grimley's research department on 0870 900 89 90 or email

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