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Will Sustainability survive the 'crunch'

10 October 2008

Concern that sustainability in business and public sector will fall in priority following the financial crisis comes in a report from Knight Frank and in a talk hosted by the College for Estate Management this month.

The College of Estate Management is holding a Reception and Lecture in London on Wednesday 22 October 2008 where James Woudhuysen will talk on ‘Why Sustainability Will Outlive the Crash of 2008’
This is a free CPD event and an opportunity to meet colleagues who have either completed the MSc/PGDip in Facilities Management or are currently doing it.

The talk is being held at One Bird Cage Walk, Westminster, London SW1H 9JJ, in The Council Room from 6.30p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Email Georgina Bovill ( or phone 0800 019 9697 to book a place.

Latest Survey from Knight Frank:
Rental cost has proved the key factor followed by retention of key staff in the decision to acquire new office space in Central London, with energy efficiency and green issues cited as the least important influencing factor, according to Knight Frank’s Central London Occupier survey which questioned more than 100 directors responsible for real estate at some of the largest companies located within London’s City, Docklands, and West End markets.

In light of the current turbulent market, 40 percent of respondents cited rental cost as the most important factor in deciding to acquire new space, whilst the retention of key staff came second with 20 percent stating that it was an essential factor. Despite much emphasis being placed upon green issues in recent years, energy efficiency was ranked tenth with respondents citing it as the least important influencing factor, followed by a higher building profile which was ranked ninth

Bradley Baker, head of central London tenant representation, Knight Frank said: “Whilst the green agenda and sustainability issues are fundamental to the future of office buildings, our research has surprisingly shown that as economic markets suffer, such requirements become less of a priority to central London office occupiers looking to acquire new space: cost and retention of staff become key. We forecast that once the markets return, occupiers will again focus on the importance of sustainability.”

Despite the current turbulent market, 38% of all respondents commented that they expected their organisations to remain stable, although 20% stated they were likely to downsize with an additional 7% anticipated to consider outsourcing and a further 7% likely to relocate back office functions. This cautionary tone in the market reinforces the awareness of occupiers of the effects of the recent economic downturn and the fact that property commitments are likely to come under increasing scrutiny in the coming months.

Commenting on the report's findings, Wayne Tantrum, Sustainability Director at Interserve said: “Some commercial property developers and occupiers may be considering changing their focus from environmental concerns to cost reductions at this time of economic downturn, but we have seen no evidence that demand for sustainable property services is declining. To ignore the opportunity to increase a building’s energy, waste and water efficiency would ignore the direct cost savings these reductions can bring, not to mention the reduced environmental impact.

“A number of innovative products and services that have recently come to market are delivering substantial savings; both in carbon emissions and cost, and many companies are using these to help them reach their sustainability goals. The way that a company or organisation manages its facilities is a fertile ground for making simple and effective reductions to its carbon footprint and, when one considers the cost benefits to be had, the case for sustainability is more compelling than ever during the credit crunch.”

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