Canary Wharf Group                            SBE0046

Written evidence from the Canary Wharf Group

1. Canary Wharf Group (CWG) is the developer of the largest urban regeneration project in Europe.

We are a commercial and residential property company who, as owner, manager and developer, is responsible for the regeneration of 128 acres of the once-derelict Docklands district of East London. Our purpose is to transform urban spaces into extraordinary environments.

 

2. CWG is the largest sustainable developer in the UK with over 10 million square feet of sustainable certified buildings. CWG also excels operationally having purchased 100% electricity from renewable sources since 2012 and zero waste to landfill since 2009.

3. We have created a 24/7 city where people can live / work / play; enjoy the benefits of great transport links, access to green spaces and waterside living; and a wide range of amenities including an award-winning arts and events programme. Our retail offering comprises over 300 shops, including grocery stores, pharmacies, health clubs, bars and restaurants, all within 15 minutes’ walk.

 

4. Around 120,000 people work on the Estate. We have created 18 million sq ft of superior office, retail and leisure space, including more than 300 shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, fitness facilities and other amenities. There are 20 acres of outdoor space and over 70 pieces of public art. Within that total, we currently have interests in approximately 7.5 million sq ft of offices, 940,000 sq ft of retail, over 1,000 build-to-rent apartments and more than 800 apartments for sale.

 

5. For the future, we are creating 500,000 sq ft of new commercial property and over 3,600 new homes in a £2.4bn construction programme. We have secured planning for a further 4.9 million sq ft with another 2.5 million sq ft of planning opportunity at North Quay

 

6. As such we are leaders in built environment sustainability and are very pleased to share our experiences with the Commission. We feel that the main reason for the success of sustainability at Canary Wharf is the fact that we think holistically and collaborate totally around the whole built environment experience. We consider the whole value chain, supplier, customer and community, as well as the design development construction and in-use management aspects in all our considerations. This way of thinking leads to a ‘race to the top’ which is the key to the success of the Canary Wharf story.

 

7. We have addressed the questions set out in the call for evidence as follows, but we feel that the technical responses are of secondary importance to the above mindset which we feel is needed  most in our industry to address the Climate and Biodiversity challenges of the future.

 

How can materials be employed to reduce the carbon impact of new buildings, including efficient heating and cooling, and which materials are most effective at reducing embodied carbon?

8. We have invested in the latest smart building monitoring technology, using advanced data analytics to ensure the buildings are commissioned, operated, and maintained to achieve optimum energy performance. This allows for greater understanding of interdependencies of buildings and systems than ever before, creating a balanced and circular system.

9. Our newest office building One and Five Bank Street is outfitted with an array of photovoltaic solar panels, expected to generate more than 19,117 kWh per year. Design measures such a low g-value glazing was used to minimise the amount of solar heat let into the building, which will improve the building’s performance. Overall, the building demonstrates a 27% reduction in energy demand over a typical office building.
 

What role can nature-based materials can play in achieving the Government’s net zero ambition?

10. Long-term biodiversity action planning has been ongoing since the inception of the Canary Wharf estate in 1987.  Key milestones such as development of the European Standard for Green Roofs in 2002 and establishment of the first Developer-led Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) in 2004 were well ahead of their time and have been instrumental towards the standardised and evidence-based approach detailed in the 10-year BAP.

11. The concept that wider ecosystem service gains could be delivered through nature-based solutions emerged through the development of the plan. The BAP has created a framework that shapes new development and guides maintenance and retrofit of habitats outside of the development sphere. The plan is informing a novel corporate strategy that connects ecological benefits to climate resilience, social benefit and other ecosystem service improvements.  CWG BAP represents pioneering thinking at the corporate level and has been widely recognised for its innovative approach to Environmental Net Gain (ENG).

What role can the planning system, permitted development and building regulations play in delivering a sustainable built environment? How can these policies incentivise developers to use low carbon materials and sustainable design?

12. For sustainability to be meaningful to city-makers, it needs to be embedded in a long-term vision of place, which goes beyond the 5-year political cycles, and the lifecycle of local and regional Development Plans. The principles of placemaking at Canary Wharf are already deeply connected to the various dimensions of sustainability.

15. Key to a sustainable place is a holistic approach to the delivery of infrastructure. The planning system should ensure the delivery of appropriate infrastructure to support development and enhance quality of life for communities and habitats. These infrastructures include:

i.         Green infrastructure – Parks and Open spaces provide a range of benefits which complement the environment (cooling urban areas, improving air quality, enhancing biodiversity, encouraging walking) and can bolster the health and wellbeing of communities. 

ii.       Public transport infrastructure – is one of the most sustainable modes of transport, and developments should be contributing towards its delivery. Canary Wharf has been investing in a comprehensive public transport infrastructure which makes the district very accessible via a range of transport modalities. This has been a key element in its development as a Metropolitan Town Centre and key Financial & Tech hub.

iii.      Social infrastructure – For places to thrive they need to be people-oriented. Canary Wharf has been building networks of support with businesses and local communities over decades. This has broadened the scope of economic participation and value creation through long-lasting partnerships.

iv.     Embedded maintenance and management – This instils in our business partners, workforce, and visitors a sense of ownership over the Estate. It leads to high levels of participation in collective actions such as recycling, reducing waste, building networks of support, etc

 

What methods account for embodied carbon in buildings and how can this be consistently applied across the sector?

16. CWG’s One and Five Bank Street project conducted a whole building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the results of which helped the building achieve a 50.9% reduction in whole life carbon emissions over a 60 year life compared to a typical office building in Central London (BCO March 2012). The low embodied carbon design helped ensure the embodied impacts of the materials accounted for 16% of the life cycle carbon, while operational carbon accounts for 84%. As part of Canary Wharf Group’s (CWG) ongoing commitment to RE100, 100% of electricity for the areas managed by CWG will be renewable. As part of our Science Based Target commitment, we are aiming for 100% of our tenants to purchase renewable electricity by 2030 and have engaged both tenants at 1 Bank Street to agree to this.

 

Should the embodied carbon impact of alternative building materials take into account the carbon cost of manufacture and delivery to site, enabling customers to assess the relative impact of imported versus domestically sourced materials?

17. Through our sustainable procurement plan and materials brief we maximise modularity. On our projects, we include not just modular pods, but also a modular structural system to increase flexibility and reusability. Material efficiency of the development is always an early consideration. In creating buildings as material banks, there is a preference for using modular, prefabricated elements. This includes an unconventional approach in using precast structural elements for twin-walled panels and floor slab panels. While providing programme, quality and cost certainty, projects also benefit from reduced waste on site, reduced wet trades and associated H&S risk, as well as improved structural performance. It also ensures that the buildings can be more easily disassembled or adapted at end of life.

How well is green infrastructure being incorporated into building design and developments to achieve climate resilience and other benefits?

18. For many years, CWG has been obligated through the national, regional, and local planning policy to incorporate green infrastructure into the buildings and surrounding public realm they design and build out.  Depending on the scale of each of the buildings and developments, the solutions vary in technical complexity.  For instance, a small retail pavilion may only be able to provide a small area of biodiverse green/sedum roofing or planting to immediate external areas at grade, once MEPH plant and other space taking shell and core designs are factored in.  But a larger commercial building for example, with external terracing, could provide green walls, bedding, trees and shrubs, intense green roofs, floating ecology islands relatively easily. 

19. Such ecological/sustainable design is considered from the outset of every project CWG commences using in-house expertise and external specialist consultants aiming always to identify current and emerging technologies.  Designs are then costed, and in turn inserted into the overall project financial appraisals, to ensure delivery within the final completed works.   

20. Regarding the buildings and public realm on the existing estate, CWG continually evaluates the feasibility and methodology of enhancing the build environment through small, medium and large-scale interventions.  They consider all aspects of ‘greening’, to maximise the benefit to those that work, live and relax in the spaces.   

21. An innovative approach used in the CWG BAP was a climate risk model including heat island effect predictions to identify where green interventions may be appropriate in future climate scenarios.  Predicted weather data for future periods was used to model whether areas of the existing Estate could become unusable due to future extreme weather conditions.  This informed strategical placement of green infrastructure interventions designed to mitigate the predicted impact. This data, along with all biodiversity and i-tree data was mapped onto a GIGL platform that enables on-going monitoring.

22. The Canary Wharf BAP has ecosystem services, natural capital and environmental net gain at its core.  The BAP emphasises and promotes the importance of nature-based solutions to deliver climate resilience for the benefit of nature and people. It enables long-term management and monitoring of the existing assets on the Estate and future interventions, directly reflecting the targets of UK, London and Tower Hamlets BAPs, whilst adding bespoke conservation objections unique to this unusual urban habitat.

23. The Canary Wharf BAP has formed the framework for how existing spaces are enhanced and new development is approached, identifying appropriate climate adaptation measures and ecological enhancement elements for new development schemes. The BAP acts as a guide and allows stakeholders to cohesively work together towards evidence-based goals. This project is a demonstration of how stakeholders not ordinarily concerned with ecology can deliver outstanding benefits, further urban nature conservation goals and to integrate these with the needs and desires of those that work, live and visit Canary Wharf for now and generations to come. 

How should we take into account the use of materials to minimise carbon footprint, such as use of water harvesting from the roof, grey water circulation, porous surfaces for hardstanding, energy generation systems such as solar panels?

24. In addition to supporting biodiversity, we designed One and Five Bank Street to maximise the wellbeing of its users. Low impact fitout materials were specified in order to improve air quality, including low VOC products. The project also achieved full FSC certification. We employed several strategies for driving energy efficiency in use, including:

 

 

25. Most importantly, the building was designed for operational efficiency. This meant a lot of collaboration between the Management and Contractors teams, and engineers to ensure a well-adapted and intelligent Building Management System was installed to monitor mechanical systems.

 

How should re-use and refurbishment of buildings be balanced with new developments?

26. As an integrated developer, contractor, and property manager, CWG is well versed in the need for flexibility when delivering a project. The project is designed for flexibility and adaptability, including an adaptable structure, modular and easily replaceable plant. This gives the building adaptable functionality, with the ability to shift from office to residential or other uses throughout its lifespan. The strong sustainability performance of this building will benefit not only the current tenants, but also any future tenants who occupy the building throughout its lifespan.

May 2021