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Are Net Zero Developments the Future of Real Estate? With Sally Jones and Matt Webster

26.9.22

In the fourth episode of season 10 of the Propcast, host Louisa Dickins is joined by Sally Jones, Head of Strategy, Digital and Technology at British Land and Matt Webster, Head of Environmental Sustainability at British Land. They share British Land’s strategy for sustainable developments and how they are going to achieve net zero by 2030.

Sally shares how her role at British Land has changed since 2010 and shifted her focus towards strategy and technology. Matt talks about how their most recent sustainable projects, 100 Liverpool Street and Canada Water, have been designed to reduce both operational and embodied carbon in both the development and the running of the buildings.

Sally and Matt discuss the advancement of technologies and successful utilisation of data and what this means for the future of sustainable real estate.

 

Resources:

 

Companies Mentioned:

 

Shout Outs:

 

Key Insights From This Episode:  

  • I think the next few years will be challenging, but the more business that successfully deliver their strategies, the closer we will be to net zero – Louisa
  • Technology is changing the shape of the property industry – Sally
  • I’m confident as a sector that we’ve got the technologies, skill sets and the ambition to play our part in this, to come together and deliver – Matt
  • The digitalisation of real estate will have a significant part to play in the decarbonisation of the built environment – Matt
  • We have to figure out a cheaper way of delivering digital transformation, especially with the rising energy costs – Sally

Keywords:Digitalisation, Smart Buildings, Sustainability, Development, Technology

 

About Our Guests:

Sally Jones, Head of Strategy, Digital and Technology:

Sally joined British Land in February 2010 as Head of Investor Relations and took responsibility for Strategy alongside Investor Relations in January 2015. In May 2016, she was appointed Head of Strategy and Investments. Subsequently, she has expanded her role to include data and insights and the Group’s Smart technology initiatives. She joined the Executive Committee in 2015.

Sally is also a Non-executive Director of Equiem, the leading tenant experience digital platform provider.

Before joining British Land Sally worked at Cadbury Schweppes where she held a variety of roles over ten years including Director of Investor Relations, Director of Communications and Finance Director Group Sales and Marketing. Prior to that she worked in the City.

 

Matt Webster, Head of Environmental Sustainability  

As Head of Environmental Sustainability, Matt leads the environmental performance of British Land’s standing portfolio and development pipeline, responsible for implementing our pathway to net zero carbon by 2030 and wider environmental sustainability agenda. Matt works across the business to ensure our assets are designed, built and operated to the highest environmental standards. Matt led British Land to a 55% reduction in its operational energy intensity achieved in 2019. He has held various roles across the business, including establishing our approach to wellbeing and most recently developing and implementing our approach to smart buildings and digital placemaking. Recent development projects include the delivery of British Land’s first net zero development at 100 Liverpool Street and leading sustainability at Canada Water – a 53 acre mixed use regeneration project.

Prior to joining British Land, Matt held various sustainability consulting and banking roles. Matt has a Master’s degree from Forum for the Future.

 

About British Land:

Our portfolio of high quality UK commercial property is focused on London Campuses and Retail & Fulfilment assets throughout the UK. We own or manage a portfolio valued at £14.3bn (British Land share: £10.5bn) as at 31 March 2022 making us one of Europe’s largest listed real estate investment companies. 

We create Places People Prefer, delivering the best, most sustainable places for our customers and communities. Our strategy is to leverage our best in class platform and proven expertise in development, repositioning and active management, investing behind two key themes: Campuses and Retail & Fulfilment. 

Our three Campuses at Broadgate, Paddington Central and Regent’s Place are dynamic neighbourhoods, attracting growth customers and sectors, and offering some of the best connected, highest quality and most sustainable space in London. We are delivering our fourth Campus at Canada Water, where we have planning consent to deliver 5m sq ft of residential, commercial, retail and community space over 53 acres. Our Campuses account for 67% of our portfolio. 

Retail & Fulfilment accounts for 33% of the portfolio and is focused on retail parks which are aligned to the growth of convenience, online and last mile fulfilment. We are complementing this with urban logistics primarily in London, focused on development-led opportunities. 

Sustainability is embedded throughout our business. In 2020, we set out our sustainability strategy which focuses on two time-critical areas where British Land can create the most benefit: making our whole portfolio net zero carbon by 2030, and partnering to grow social value and wellbeing in the communities where we operate. 

Further details can be found on the British Land website at www.britishland.com

 

About Our Host

Louisa Dickins

Louisa is the co-founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market leading global PropTech recruitment platform and search consultancy with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation.

 

About LMRE

LMRE is globally recognised for leading the way in Real Estate Tech & Innovation talent management.

From the outset our vision was to become a global provider of the very best strategic talent to the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting.

At LMRE we are fully committed at all times to exceed the expectations of our candidates and clients by providing the very best advice and by unlocking exclusive opportunities across our global network in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.

 

Timestamps:

[2:10] Sally: How did you get into your strategy, technology and digital role?

  •  It has been so fascinating to be able to combine strategy with all things digital and technology and I am now in charge of building tech, insights and the whole technology stack.
  • My interest in technology started when I realised how technology was changing the shape of the property industry.

 

[3:50] Matt: Could you tell us what your role at British Land entails?

  • I have been at British Land for a number of years now and worked in different sections around the business, but always with an angle on sustainability.
  • I was retained to deliver the 55% energy target and we were very proud to be able to deliver that over a 10 year period from 2009 to 2019.
  • We were early adopters of the idea that it was our responsibility to collaborate with customers to work towards understanding our carbon footprint and start utilising data and technologies.

 

[5:35] Sally: Could you elaborate on your digital strategy?

  • We started working on it in 2015 and created a smart team after realising that digitalising buildings was going to become a big thing.
  • We wanted to create a strategy with a very focused approach on improving people’s experience of our real estate, building greater understanding through data and driving greater efficiency.

 

[6:58] Matt: How does the sustainability strategy fit into the digital strategy?

  • Our latest strategy runs from 2019 to 2030 and is balanced between environmental and social issues.
  • Our target is to reach net zero carbon by 2030, as an operator and developer of space our two big sources of carbon are embodied from the development of our assets and operational which is related to the energy from running our assets.
  • We are aiming for a 50% reduction in our embodied carbon and a 75% reduction in our operational carbon. The digital plan will help us deliver these ambitious targets.

 

[8:45] Matt: Tell us about your current development projects and how they’re helping socially and environmentally?

  • 100 Liverpool Street is our first net zero development, it has benefited from significant reuse of the previous structure of the building and we worked really hard to design without carbon throughout the process. A lot of thought has gone into how it is going to operate once it’s a live building. It’s our first building to deliver some of the things in our digital strategy as well. 
  • Canada Water is a really exciting project that we are embedding sustainability principles into. The building is implementing our smart building design guide which will help the building run more efficiently by retrieving useful data out of it during the design stage.

 

[12:35] Sally: What technologies are working for British Land and how are you utilising them?

  • Smart enabling a building makes it digitally capable, the key for that is to allow us to get data out of the building in such a way that we can surface it through a single platform.
  • The data allows us to see what is working and manage the building more efficiently over time. Machine learning and AI helps us control the building to drive more efficiencies.
  • We’re working with a company called Facilio, they have built this entire data platform for us which things like AI can sit on. The Equiem platform works alongside Facilio to see how and when rooms in buildings are being used.

 

[16:08] Matt: Is there anything you would like to add to the data side of smart buildings?

  • We have learnt a lot in the development and delivery of 100 Liverpool Street. Installing smart metre systems lets us know exactly where and when energy is consumed in a building. The system will also communicate the data to a wider platform, allowing us to take a software approach to the building. 
  • With this data we can apply it at a portfolio level rather than replicating it within each building.

 

[19:29] Sally: What do we need to tackle in the future?

  • We are now turning our attention to our old developments, ultimately we’re all going to have to think about retrofitting our old buildings. 
  • We have to figure out a way of delivering this digital transformation much more cheaply, especially with the rising energy costs.

 

[22:15] Matt: What lies ahead in terms of environmental sustainability?

  • People are finally listening to this issue and it is really important to make sure we’ve got the resources and skill sets to respond to it.
  • We have been tackling operational carbon for a long time, we need more understanding and data surrounding embodied carbon so we have a more rapid process to help reduce it in the next few years.

 

L– Touch on the main lessonsyou have learnt throughout your career.

Sally: What stands out for me at companies that I have worked for is the culture value and leadership. British Land and Cadbury are the two places where I have enjoyed and achieved the most.

M – Please give a mention to anyone / product / service.

Matt: Our own internal digital placemaking team, they have been working really hard working on the vision and delivering 100 Liverpool Street.

R – What has been the most  rewarding aspect of working within the digitalisation space?

Sally: Working with this small team at British Land, they’ve been brilliant at navigating their way through a very complex landscape in a cost effective way with an incredible set of products.

E – What are you excited about in the future of environmental sustainability?

Matt: I’m excited about the recognition that ESG is now gaining and the seriousness that people are starting to approach the subject with. Also, the digitalisation of real estate because that will have a significant part to play in the decarbonisation of the built environment. 

 

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