The return to the office has become a reality for Londoners, and with it comes a fresh wave of eco-friendly office spaces that are revolutionizing the city’s commercial real estate landscape. Companies are increasingly embracing state-of-the-art buildings that incorporate wellness and leisure facilities while prioritizing lower- or zero-carbon emissions. These new eco-conscious office spaces are not just a reflection of environmental awareness but also a strategic move to attract a young and environmentally conscious workforce.
Why the Shift to Eco-Friendly Offices? There are several factors driving the surge in eco-friendly office spaces:
- Environmental Commitments: Many major UK corporations have set ambitious environmental targets. By choosing eco-friendly office spaces, they can align their real estate choices with their sustainability goals.
- Employee Wellbeing: The modern workforce, especially younger employees, places a premium on wellness and a sustainable environment. Eco-friendly offices cater to these preferences, offering a healthier and more appealing workplace.
- Government Policy: As government guidance shifted from “stay at home” to encouraging office return, organizations sought office spaces that comply with COVID-19 safety measures while also addressing sustainability.
Eco-Friendly Offices Command Premium Rents According to a recent study by real estate agent Knight Frank, eco-friendly offices in London can command rents that are 12% higher than the market average. This premium reflects the growing demand for these innovative workspaces.
The Rise of Sustainable Features Eco-friendly offices in London are redefining the way we work. They feature cutting-edge amenities such as lower or zero-carbon emissions, ample green spaces, and wellness facilities. The focus is on creating a conducive environment that prioritizes both work and wellbeing. Some of the sustainable features include:
- Lower or Zero-Carbon Emissions: These buildings reduce their carbon footprint, contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.
- Wellness Facilities: Gyms, yoga studios, and relaxation areas promote physical and mental health among employees.
- Ample Green Space: Eco-friendly offices often incorporate green rooftops and terraces, allowing employees to connect with nature.
- Smart Building Technology: Features like touchless entry and smartphone apps enhance safety and convenience.
A Growing Trend North American companies have recognized the potential of eco-friendly office spaces in London. Toronto-based Brookfield, one of London’s largest landlords, recently invested in eco-conscious properties. Its decision to invest £850 million in two properties with eco-friendly features underscores the attractiveness of this trend. Other organizations, such as Barings LLC and BentallGreenOak, are also stepping up their efforts in this space.
Occupancy on the Rise Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, leasing inquiries have been on the rise since August, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s guidance to return to the office. Experts predict that occupancy levels will return to pre-pandemic levels by the first quarter of 2021.
A Word of Caution While the rise of eco-friendly offices is a positive development, experts like Mat Oakley, head of commercial research at Savills, offer a note of caution. An excessive focus on green, albeit expensive, buildings might lead to an oversupply issue. The key is to balance eco-friendly features with accessibility and functionality to meet the diverse needs of businesses.
Public Transport Remains Vital No matter how green a building is, its accessibility through public transport remains a critical factor in its success. As Mat Oakley points out, “Public transport is still more important than anything else.” A well-connected location ensures that businesses can attract and retain top talent.
In conclusion, the rise of eco-friendly office spaces in London is reshaping the city’s commercial real estate landscape. These offices are not only a reflection of sustainability goals but also a strategic move to create healthier, more appealing workspaces. While the trend is on the rise, the balance between sustainability and practicality remains essential for long-term success.