• Sectors we work in banner(2)

    Quick Reads

Time to turn down the lights

The City of London Corporation will be asking property owners to dim their lights at night in a bid to achieve carbon net zero in the Square Mile by 2040. The local authority is consulting on a draft plan to create ‘lighting curfews’ for the City starting from 10 – 12 pm, after which buildings will need to dim or turn off unnecessary lights. New developments would have to take these rules into account as part of their planning applications, and existing property owners will be asked to follow them voluntarily, through signing a ‘Considerate Lighting Charter’.  

This plan is only the latest in a string of legislative changes and initiatives to encourage landlords and developers to consider the environmental impact of their operations. With around 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, public bodies will continue to put pressure on the sector to go greener. Under new MEES regulations, from 1 April 2023 Landlords will be liable for penalties if they continue to let commercial properties with an EPC rating below E. There are plans to continue tightening these regulations in staged rises, with a minimum requirement of a B rating by 2030.

In fairness, many of these legislative changes reflect a desire amongst the Real Estate and Construction community to reduce its carbon footprint. With many property companies committing to achieving net zero in line with government targets it is increasingly common to see environmental obligations and commitments imposed on occupiers through 'green clauses' in leases. Tenants are being asked to covenant to share data, use renewable sources for energy, or install energy-efficient alterations – the more onerous the obligation, the ‘darker green’ the lease is considered. While the ‘greenness’ of each lease will reflect the specific parties’ commitment to improving their environmental impact, they are becoming more and more market standard. In theory, both landlords and tenants benefit from green leases - they help future-proof their businesses against forecasted policy change and the data shows that occupiers do care – rents for offices with a BREEAM rating, which measures a building’s sustainable value, are 11.6% higher than for similar buildings without. This is the effect of the “green premium” in action - the higher price that a buyer or occupier will pay for a property with sustainability credentials – working in conjunction with the “brown discount” - the loss that unsustainable buildings will face on their asset value.

But how easy will it actually be to ‘green’ the real estate sector? The UK has among the oldest housing stock in the world. The average EPC rating in England and Wales is D, and around 18% of commercial properties are rated F or G. New buildings are more energy efficient in the long term; but demolition generates high levels of carbon emissions. Many in the sector are holding up retrofitting as the answer; the UKGBC last year released a guide encouraging businesses to retrofit the UK’s inefficient commercial property. However, retrofitting comes with its own issues, including building restrictions, planning permissions, the cost of the works, and the difficulty of updating old buildings. Plans to demolish and redevelop M&S’s flagship store on Oxford Street have stalled due to the local council pushing back and encouraging them to retrofit instead. M&S responded that retrofitting the 1930s building would be ‘unworkable’.

In the long-term, further legislation and large amounts of money will need to be spent to bring existing housing and commercial property stock up to a standard needed to achieve our collective environmental goals but the City of London Corporation’s plan demonstrates there is low-hanging fruit to aim at first. A study in 2020 estimated that the energy used in one night by high-rise buildings in Canary Wharf was the same as the energy required to power over 4,000 homes a year. There are still easy wins which can generate significant amounts of energy saving.

The lights in future City of London skyscrapers may be turned off or dimmed at night in order to save energy under proposed plans by the local authority.

Owners of new developments in the Square Mile would be required to submit a detailed strategy for how their buildings are lit, as part of plans to cut light pollution.

Our thinking

  • IBA Annual Conference 2024

    Charlotte Ford

    Events

  • Record number of leading individuals for Charles Russell Speechlys in Chambers High-Net-Worth 2024

    Piers Master

    News

  • Collateral Warranty and Third Party Rights: Everything You Need to Know

    Chris Marks

    Insights

  • Supreme Court overturns Court of Appeal decision: Statutory adjudication will not apply to a typical collateral warranty

    Kevin Forsyth

    Insights

  • IET’s new revision 7 of the Model Form of Contract (MF/1): What has changed?

    Melanie Tomlin

    Insights

  • From Manchester to the Metaverse: How United’s Roblox Rollout Could Help Drive Fan Engagement

    Shennind Awat-Ranai

    Insights

  • New UK Listing Rules to be implemented 29 July 2024

    Victoria Younghusband

    Insights

  • Darren Bailey and Frédéric Jeannin write for City AM on geopolitical risk and challenges posed to Paris by staging the Olympic Games

    Darren Bailey

    In the Press

  • Inside Housing quotes James Walton on the potential financing impact of delays at the Building Safety Regulator

    James Walton

    In the Press

  • IFLR quotes Victoria Younghusband on new UK listing rules unveiled by the FCA

    Victoria Younghusband

    In the Press

  • Bloomberg quotes Sarah Jane Boon on plans announced in the King’s speech to press ahead with the tax hike on UK private school fees

    Sarah Jane Boon

    In the Press

  • CoStar quotes Claire Fallows and Ben Butterworth on some of the key real estate issues addressed in the King's Speech

    Claire Fallows

    In the Press

  • “We want prenup! We want prenup!” (Yeah!)

    Cara Fung

    Quick Reads

  • Charles Russell Speechlys reports domestic and international growth across all practice areas

    Simon Ridpath

    News

  • Cyber Co-ordination 2024 - new MOU on co-operation between EBA, ESMA, EIOPA and ENISA

    Mark Bailey

    Insights

  • The EU AI Act: A Beginner’s Guide for UK and International Businesses using AI

    Janine Regan

    Insights

  • James Walton writes for the Evening Standard on whether the Government can expect a return on its new National Wealth Fund

    James Walton

    In the Press

  • ADGM Court holds that NMC can bring fraudulent and wrongful trading claims retroactively

    Nicola Jackson

    Quick Reads

  • Citywealth quotes Robert Blower and Oliver Little on the intersection between trust structures and Sharia law

    Robert Blower

    In the Press

  • IFA Magazine quotes Sarah Jane Boon on Labour’s pledge to add VAT to private school fees within their first year in government

    Sarah Jane Boon

    In the Press

Back to top