In the next of our Greater Manchester Green Summit 2022 preview blogs, we hear from Alex Edwards, Director of Sustainability at Bruntwood.

Bruntwood is one of our headline sponsors for this year’s Green Summit. You can register for free tickets to the Green Summit here.

Sustainability is at the heart of all our work at Bruntwood. We know that our mission to create thriving cities will not be possible without businesses and communities across the region coming together to address the many challenges that face us in achieving Greater Manchester’s net zero goals.

We all have our part to play in making this happen, but events like the Green Summit are crucial in allowing us to share knowledge and best practice to meet our goals, with the aim of accelerating action across the region together, today. That’s why we’re sponsoring the Green Summit in 2022, and why we have boosted our support by hosting a number of fringe events, in partnership with SSE Energy Solutions.

We know that property plays a huge role in aiding the shift towards net zero as one of the biggest emitters of carbon (40% of total UK carbon emissions according to the UKGBC), which is why across our Bruntwood Works, Bruntwood SciTech and joint venture portfolios, we’re committed to leading the way to create a more sustainable future.

Our approach to tackling the environmental challenges that we all face is to consistently develop solutions to decarbonise our existing buildings and collaborate with the communities that we work in to drive prosperity in their regions.

A fundamental part of our sustainability aims is to reach net zero emissions, making sure that we have ultra efficient buildings, fed from green electricity, and that we’re addressing the large amount of carbon used in construction materials. However, we recognise that sustainability is much more than just carbon emissions. We have created targets across seven separate domains – emissions, energy usage, green spaces and biodiversity, sustainable materials, transportation, waste and water, to improve our credentials across the board.

What I love about Bruntwood is that we don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for new technologies to come to us. In partnering with universities across the country, we are using our spaces as test beds for innovations like advanced materials, which we hope to use in the future to create carbon positive developments.

One of the projects we’re most proud of in 2022 is our Building Efficiency Programme, where we analysed the current building performance of every one of our buildings and identified where we need to invest to futureproof our buildings against future NZC standards and make the areas that are under our control net zero carbon by 2030 – such as in insulation on roofs and facades, installing solar panels to generate energy ourselves, replacing glazing, and replacing gas boilers for other heat sources such as air source or ground source heat pumps.

This year, we also announced that in Didsbury, we’re building Ev0 which will be the UK’s lowest carbon new build workspace and net zero for both upfront carbon – the carbon emissions released before the building is used – and operational carbon – the carbon emissions released during the building’s use.

This is such an exciting development for us. We’re constructing Ev0 using a unique mass timber frame that captures and stores carbon and we’re actively enhancing some of those timber features in the interior design elements, like exposed timber soffits, beams and columns. Smart technology will control the building’s temperature and air quality and the building’s facade will create solar shading.

Importantly, customers will be able to track their energy consumption through smart metering systems, so that they are able to better monitor and manage their usage.

The key thing that binds Bruntwood together is that across the business, we are passionate about creating positive change in the world around us, and listening to our colleagues and customers is essential to that. We recently gathered our customers’ insights on what sustainability means to them, where they are at in their sustainability journey and a range of scenarios in which they’d benefit from our support. We have already seen some interesting themes stemming from this work and going forward we’re excited to be launching new initiatives that directly benefit our customers, based on the information they have shared with us.

Another part of creating positive change is to understand that meeting our sustainability targets, and supporting Greater Manchester to reach net zero by 2038, is about making incremental progress through close collaboration with partners across the region, knowing that the work we put in will collectively create meaningful change. I’m proud that we have greatly expanded our Sustainability team at the same time as feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting ourselves in an excellent position to meet our goals, but also to support Greater Manchester in accelerating environmental change in the region over the next few crucial years.

With that in mind, I’d like to see three important elements arise from this year’s Green Summit:

  1. A clear pathway to accelerate change in the region to meet Greater Manchester’s 2038 net zero goal;
  2. New routes to collaboration within and across industries so that Bruntwood can enhance its support to create this change, and;
  3. For everyone, no matter what their background is, to understand the steps that they can take to make positive changes to the environment

Alex Edwards, Director of Sustainability, Bruntwood  

Bruntwood has been creating thriving cities for over 47 years and is deeply connected with the cities it operates in. It plays a pivotal role in creating vibrant places and unlocking economic potential.

As part of this approach, Bruntwood is committed to a sustainable future. In 2018, Bruntwood became the UK’s first commercial property company to sign up to the Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Commitment pledge, which aims for new buildings to be net zero carbon by 2030 and older buildings the same by 2050.

Employing over 800 people, Bruntwood has over £1.4bn in assets and more than 100 properties across Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham. It provides everything from coworking space and meeting rooms to serviced, managed and leased offices.

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