The big energy clean-up


This week is the first London Climate Action Week. It comes in response to UK Parliament declaring a national climate emergency. MPs are now calling on the government to make changes that include setting a new target of reaching net zero emissions before 2050, an acceleration of the current target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.


Sophie EastwoodThe property sector clearly has an important role to play in meeting this goal. However, it seems we have some barriers to overcome, especially when it comes to leased property.  Last week, research revealed 80% of some of Britain’s biggest building occupiers are being prevented from switching to clean energy due to a lack of engagement between landlords and tenants.  And only 26% of all businesses source 100% of their electricity from renewables.


The research, published in a report called ‘Going 100%’ by edie and Big Clean Switch, in association with The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative is the result of interviews with 74 sustainability, energy and environmental managers at the UK’s biggest businesses, including PwC, Nando’s and ITV. 


It highlighted a number of issues that are preventing the switch to clean energy, not least misconceptions that it’s cost prohibitive and logistically hard to deliver. It seems that dialogue, open communication and collaboration are needed to identify mutual goals, tenant needs and then find a way to deliver better access to electricity from renewable energy sources, whether that’s from a renewable tariff or on-site generation, sub-metering or EV charging facilities.


Organisations like Big Clean Switch will be instrumental in keeping the issue front of mind and giving practical advice, but we’ll need the property industry to help drive change too. It’s particularly positive to see the RICS giving their support and proposing how managing agents and indeed the wider surveying profession can be a key facilitator, bringing the skills we need to both help viability and deliver the solutions themselves. As an industry with so many environmental and sustainability experts, we have the skills to lead the charge.


The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to avoid a climate change catastrophe, and over half of the UK’s commercial real estate is made up of leased property. It’s time to step up and see what we can do collectively to make a strong contribution to meeting the UK’s carbon targets. Please help spread the word!