Lend Lease's building ambition

12th April 2012


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How property company Lend Lease is working to meets its long-standing sustainability aspirations

Lend Lease founder Dick Dusseldorp called in 1973 for companies to “start justifying their worth to society, with greater emphasis placed on environmental and social impact rather than straight economics”.

That approach continues to underpin everything the company now does, from building the athletes’ village for the London 2012 Olympics and the redevelopment of the Heygate Estate in London’s Elephant and Castle, to managing the Bluewater shopping centre and fitting out its own new UK head office.

“It’s about creating a future built on sustainable practices and lasting relationships,” says Pascal Mittermaier, head of sustainability for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

Sustainable aspirations

Lend Lease aims to be a sustainable business and industry leader. These goals are supported by 23 global sustainability aspirations, including the following five long-term environmental objectives:

  • environmental considerations are to inform all its investment decisions;
  • all the firm’s office tenancies must achieve independently assessed “green” ratings;
  • all buildings and communities it produces and/or operates are independently rated as achieving green building status;
  • all Lend Lease tenancies are zero-net carbon, water and waste, as a minimum; and
  • all buildings the firm develops and/or operates are zero-net carbon, water and waste, as a minimum.

Its ambitions mean the Australian-owned business is focusing on improving operational efficiency and achieving its environmental goals, which include reducing the carbon impact of its operations, minimising the amount of waste going to landfill, cutting water consumption and embedding responsible sourcing.

Lend Lease is already making headway in these areas. During the 2010/11 financial year, the firm reported that it had reduced the carbon footprint (scope 1 and 2 emissions) of its occupied offices, assets under management and construction operations in the UK by 27% over the previous three financial years.

In 2009, Lend Lease in the UK set a target to reduce the total waste sent to landfill by 50% by the end of the 2012/13 financial year compared with 2008/09 levels. By 2011, it had already achieved a 48% reduction and is now well on target to meet the 50% reduction.

Water consumption in assets under management was also down in 2009/10, by 9.6% against the 2008/09 levels, slightly below its 10% target. Lend Lease has since set a 2013 target to cut the amount of water consumed in its construction and project management business in the UK by 20%. And all projects now report on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) timber use with verified data from 2010/11 revealing that, in the UK, 92% of the timber used by Lend Lease was either FSC certified or recycled.

The amount of certified or recycled timber on some individual developments is even higher. Almost 93% of the approximately 1,600m3 of timber used in the construction of the Central St Giles development in London, for example, was certified as FSC or recycled, with the remaining timber from well-managed sources. As a result of Lend Lease’s commitment to FSC, in 2010 the company directly influenced eight suppliers to gain accreditation.

EMEA environment operations manager, Gemma Bourne, says that better measurement of environmental impacts is helping Lend Lease identify where best to make savings. “We’ve spent the past three to four years measuring every aspect of our environmental impact, from every construction site to every managed building. That includes water, waste, timber [sourcing] and CO₂, and we are also starting to measure embodied carbon,” she explains.

Lend Lease has developed a reporting tool as part of its environment management system, called “Insight environment”, to collate information and help the business to better understand its environmental performance. Its indicators comprise atmosphere and climate change, land and biodiversity, water, waste and environmental incidents.

These indicators are supported by more than 78 environmental metrics and 69 attributes. For example, the related metrics for the atmosphere and climate change indicator are: electricity and natural gas use; other energy purchased – heating oil, steam, petrol and diesel; refrigerant use; on-site power generation; employee business travel – air, taxi and company vehicle travel; emissions from waste; and embodied emissions from products and materials.

Up and running

The construction of the athletes’ village at Stratford is a good example of how Lend Lease is turning its sustainability aspirations into action.

Over the course of a two-year building programme, Lend Lease needed 9MW of temporary power. It had the choice of either diesel- or gas-powered generators. Most construction projects use diesel generators, but Lend Lease opted for those powered by natural gas, something that had not been tried for temporary power generation in the past.

“It was a first for a construction project in the UK,” says Mittermaier. “Too many construction companies simply look at the cost of diesel generators compared with gas-powered ones and opt for the former because hiring them is significantly cheaper. But we looked at the overall picture, including that the cost of diesel is higher and the environmental impacts are greater,” he explains.

The preference for gas generators resulted in better air quality in the local community, a reduction in CO₂ emissions of 10,552 tonnes (22% less than using comparable diesel generators) and, importantly, a cost saving of about £13 million. “We’re now using gas-powered generators wherever we can,” confirms Mittermaier.

The athletes’ village project also provides a further example of how sustainability is driving innovation throughout Lend Lease and its supply chain, and leading to wider environmental benefits.

The Code for Sustainable Homes target for the village was level 4, forcing the developer to seek innovative energy-efficient lighting systems rather than use 60W halogen light bulbs. Lend Lease teamed up with bulb manufacturer Philips to find an alternative. The Dutch electronics company brought forward its development of 7W LED light bulbs so that they could be installed in the village. “The payback is less than 12 months,” says Mittermaier.

Standard practice

Of its 81 construction and project management schemes in progress in the UK at the end of 2010, Lend Lease had either achieved, or was on target to achieve, BREEAM rating of very good, excellent or outstanding in 85% of projects.

To ensure Lend Lease projects meet the highest sustainability building standards, an increasing number of design staff are receiving training in benchmarks such as BREEAM. Across the firm, a greater proportion of its 17,000-strong workforce is being trained or accredited in BREEAM or similar green building schemes.

In addition, the firm’s project management and construction business is rolling out a three-stage sustainability core skills programme for all employees, covering the broad understanding of sustainability and technical requirements of specific roles.

Other ways of embedding sustainability include conducting an environment, health and safety risk assessment before the start of and throughout each project to identify the potential environmental impacts.

The risks are documented and a plan is developed and implemented to improve environmental performance. But even before projects get the go-ahead, the company’s investment decisions are subject to a process known as the corporate investment pipeline, with proposals, bids and tenders considered against criteria that include assessing risks to biodiversity and the potential for the project to generate toxic or significant solid, liquid or gas wastes or emissions.

Everyone who works for Lend Lease has their own set of sustainability roles and responsibilities that are agreed with their manager, and formal sustainability processes which they have to work to in their part of the business.

In August 2011, Lend Lease introduced a traffic-light system for its projects, similar to display energy certificates, so managers at each site know how they are performing against their peers in terms of the firm’s sustainability priorities.

Under the scheme, red signals poor progress, amber indicates that progress is being made, and green demonstrates good progress. Monthly performance reports go to the senior management team. “It’s a powerful tool to generate improvements,” says Mittermaier. “You don’t want to be in the red.” There is also a financial element, with rewards linked to performance.

The value chain

Making sustainability everyone’s responsibility is the key to Lend Lease meeting its sustainability aspirations. Engaging staff and making them aware of what is expected is having an impact, with employees more willing to invest in the right behaviour.

The company’s EMEA head office, 20 Triton Street in London, provides a glimpse of what is possible (see panel below). From its design and materials to how staff use the building, the office is a very visible demonstration of Lend Lease’s sustainability aspirations in action.

Lend Lease at Home

Lend Lease moved into the new head office of its Europe, Middle East and Africa division, 20 Triton Street, London, in summer 2010. The newly refurbished offices – Lend Lease occupies 80,000 square feet over four floors – enabled the company to put into practice its sustainable ethos. The building itself has an excellent BREEAM rating, scoring 73.4%, and its energy performance certificate classification is “B”. The recent fit-out achieved the first BREEAM excellence award for a UK fit-out. “We’ve made sure the design, materials, equipment and layout reflect our thinking on sustainability and help engage with our employees and visitors about sustainability,” comments sustainability manager Duncan Young.

The flooring is made from recycled 100-year-old French oak, originally from railway wagons. The 15mm oak has been remilled, cut down and lacquered, and attached to Forest Stewardship Council plywood. Birch FSC plywood is also used in the vertical wall panels. The modular carpet tiles have a BREEAM “A” green product rating, while the fabric for the booth seating has an 80% recycled content. There is LED lighting throughout and the office also has a 260m2 green roof and employee allotment. To improve air quality, Lend Lease has reduced toxins entering the workplace, for example volatile organic compounds, and there are approximately eight plants to every employee – 4,000 in total. “There is mounting evidence that plants provide a healthy and more productive workplace, by absorbing dust from carpets and toxic fumes from printers,” explains Young.

Like all of Lend Lease’s offices, Triton Street adheres to the firm’s global environment management system, which supports all corporate activities, from sustainable procurement to green travel plans, to reducing waste, carbon emissions and consumption of energy, water and paper. And along with its other facilities, the London head office implements the company’s green office guides, which are integrated into the environment management system and complement the building’s existing green rating by providing an operational focus on the key environmental areas, such as energy, water and waste.


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