Achieving decarbonisation: Sharing insights and experiences in Birmingham
We headed to Birmingham for the fourth of our Achieving Decarbonisation roundtable events, where industry friends joined us to discuss the challenges and opportunities in retrofit.
Representatives from diverse sectors and industries, including BAM, Nottingham Trent University, Nurton Developments Ltd, Worcestershire County Council, The University of Nottingham, Sterling Property Ventures Ltd and Bruntwood, were in attendance, each at different stages of their decarbonisation journeys.
The session sparked some innovative insights on decarbonisation and retrofitting, encouraging a collective commitment to drive progress through collaboration, ongoing learning and reaching set goals.
Similar themes emerged from our past events in the North West and Cardiff, such as the importance of knowledge sharing, funding and introducing sustainability concepts earlier on.
In the Midlands, the conversation underscored the importance of government support and public sector funding, adapting to changing occupier dynamics and efficiently managing space utilisation.
The upcoming UK Net Zero Carbon Building Standard sets a crucial deadline for industries to align their practices for sustainability. Achieving these standards relies heavily on strong government support, including legislation and funding.
Public sector funding is essential for research, development and implementation of innovative technologies in construction. A stronger partnership between industries and the government, emphasising public sector funding, is crucial for fostering an environment that encourages sustainable construction practices for a greener built environment.
As occupiers gain a deeper appreciation for sustainability, their awareness not only fuels the demand for decarbonisation efforts but also sparks a genuine interest in eco-friendly and energy-efficient retrofitting activities.
Recognising the environmental implications of their daily activities, occupiers are now more inclined than ever to champion solutions aligned with sustainable practices.
This evolving consciousness creates a ripple effect that extends beyond individual choices, shaping the built environment. Discussions on the changing landscape of occupier behavior, especially in offices and workplaces, become integral to our understanding of the need for refurbishments and retrofits.
In Birmingham, near the iconic Colmore Row business district, our discussion gains importance. Two standout projects, 81 Colmore Row and 55 Colmore Row, show how much positive change can happen when sustainability is a priority.
Positive change is underway as occupier behaviour evolves, impacting energy consumption in spaces like offices or university buildings. This provides a unique opportunity for individuals and businesses to rethink their estates, aiming for efficiency and reduced energy consumption.
An innovative and creative strategy in this context involves the adaptive repurposing of spaces. For instance, considering the dual functionality of offices and learning space. Modern office designs exemplify this adaptability, seamlessly blending the professional atmosphere of workplaces with the comforts of home, and vice versa.
This approach not only responds to the changing needs of occupants but also serves as a catalyst for businesses to embrace spatial strategies that extend beyond functionality. The emphasis is on adopting designs and layouts that not only promote operational efficiency but also contribute significantly to positive energy reduction.
Emphasising the need for a holistic collaboration approach suggests that addressing sustainability challenges requires a comprehensive and integrated effort. This involves bringing together various stakeholders, including investors, to work collaboratively throughout the entire lifecycle of a building, from design to operation, ensuring all aspects align with energy-saving objectives.
The positive changes in behaviour, influenced by occupiers’ growing awareness of eco-friendly practices, play a crucial role in the broader collaborative effort. As occupants become more environmentally conscious, they not only request efforts for reducing carbon emissions but also shape the approach to retrofitting.
Within this collaborative framework, the discussion on space utilisation gains added importance. Efficient space strategies extend beyond physical layouts; they also act as platforms for promoting positive behaviours. As occupants increasingly value sustainability, assessing and adapting how often people use spaces, such as offices, becomes integral.
The paramount focus remains on the power of sharing knowledge and the valuable lessons learned on the journey to decarbonisation. It was agreed that exchanging knowledge through previous work or case studies helps spread best practices and build confidence when retrofitting.
Success stories serve as useful benchmarks, enabling the adoption of effective strategies, methodologies and technologies that have proven successful in specific situations.
Our discussion in Birmingham emphasised how government support, occupier influence, efficient space use, collaboration and knowledge sharing are all connected in our joint effort to reach decarbonisation and retrofitting goals. We’re eager for more discussions as we keep progressing on our decarbonisation journey.
To learn more about how we are achieving decarbonisation through retrofit, visit our perspectives page here.
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by Robert Hopkins