The Net Zero and Sustainability agenda is no longer coming down the tracks, it’s here, and that means changes to our built environment.

As of Wednesday last week both the Crown Estate and Grosvenor Estate announced ambitious plans to achieve Net Zero across their estates by 2030.

Grosvenor has committed to measures across their portfolio in Mayfair and Belgravia to reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70%, cut its embodied carbon in construction projects to a maximum of 500kg of CO2e per sq m from 2025 and develop buildings that are operationally net zero.

Grosvenor and The Crown are joined by the Howard de Walden Estate who recently appointed Laura Jockers as Head of Sustainability to deliver an ambitious sustainability strategy with the objective of reaching Net Zero.

Another example is the Government Property Agency which recently stated its commitment to Net Zero in its 2020-21 Business Case.

One of the main areas that all four estates mentioned above have in common is that they are all valued partly for their portfolios of historic places: listed buildings and conservations areas are found often overlapping, adding to their cultural richness.

But as we know, those types of heritage assets are protected in policy and law. So despite the Government’s aspiration for historic buildings to be adapted to support the zero carbon objectives (see Proposal 17 of the White Paper: Planning for the Future), there are often barriers that prevent straightforward refurbishment.

To help, Historic England have provided guidance in this area. But there remains an inconsistency in application across different local authorities and the weight given to the tangible public benefits that could be delivered by such proposals.

So, in the short-term at least, there is a clear need for professional advice. We are experts in managing change to historic buildings and now, more than ever, that also means looking to a sustainable future.

Early next year we are aiming to speak to clients, specialists, architects and development managers to better understand the challenges that we are all facing in this area.

We’re looking forward to it. And like many others, we’re excited about a positive start to 2021.