Sustainability – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Every year it’s estimated the UK construction industry is responsible for 32% of landfill waste. Around 420 million tonnes of materials are used by the industry each year, and approximately 120 tonnes becomes waste, which could be underestimated when you consider items such as packaging and transportation.

The Government has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with manifesto pledges during the election to invest in energy-efficient buildings. In the UK the operation of buildings accounts for around 30% of emissions, mainly from heating, cooling and electricity usage. For new buildings, emissions from the construction stage can account for up to 50% of the carbon footprint of a building’s lifecycle.

We believe our industry can do better.

That’s why at Vantage, we’re committed to doing our bit. 

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has set out a framework last year as a first step to helping deliver net zero carbon across the whole life of a building for the construction and property industry.

To acquire an overall understanding of a built project’s total carbon impact, it is necessary to assess both the anticipated operational and embodied emissions over the whole life of the asset.

All this got us thinking about dilapidations. The first thought is often to ‘strip’ buildings out, which is the ‘easiest’ option that ingrains our industry. Take a step back and items could actually be re-purposed, saving them from landfill and similar ones being bought by a future tenant.

Take a recent case where we’ve being refurbishing a shop for Ann Summers in Brunswick. Instead of removing everything at the start, we evaluated the store and spoke to them about how the light fittings, mirrors and displays all could be re-purposed. The result was a 60% reduction in cost for the client, over 200kg waste saved from landfill and the project delivered in half the time.

As an advisory industry, we need to stop thinking about the ‘easy’ option or the ‘way its always been’ to take better consideration of all the possibilities available. 

What we’d like to see is better consideration from the building surveyors to the agents about re purposing assets. We’ve seen cases where tenants have replaced items, previously taken out in a substandard way, that then causes a costly dispute for both sides at the end of the lease. 

Yes, it needs to be economically viable as well and maybe there needs to be a change to leases to reflect liability but that shouldn’t stop us.

Take for example the office sector, approximately 1.4 million desks and 1.9 million office chairs are thrown away in the UK every year, according to estimates by WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme). The majority of these desks are in near perfect condition, yet are often the victim of the building ‘strip’ out. They could be an asset to attract a future tenant.

We also should consider good quality sustainable materials, which are long-lasting and can be recycled, renewed or responsibly disposed of at the end of their lifecycle.

For example, painting concrete floors. They look great at the start, but we all know the paint wears away or gets damaged. Why not take that toxic substance out the equation? Replacing it with an environmentally friendly clean and seal at the end of the lease.

Our Sustainability Policy

We will promote a positive environment where all the team have a responsibility. We’re taking action, rather than just talking the talk.

Whether that be something small like recycling our lunch packaging to cycling to a meeting on the office bike rather than using the car.

We will not take the easy option and evaluate the building with the client’s needs.

In simple times we have four ‘R’s’

  • Recycle 
  • Repurpose
  • Repair
  • Reflect

It all makes a difference. Now it’s your turn.