Sustainability in Action: Ethical Property Company

The company is one of the largest social businesses in the UK, owning or managing some 23 serviced office centres across England, Scotland and Wales. It provides office, meeting, event and retail space to over 1,000 organisations every year. Since its launch in 1998, the Company has assembled a sizeable pan-UK property portfolio, and sustainable principles are core to its values.

The majority of tenants are environmentally and ethically minded small businesses, social enterprises and charities. These organisations benefit from practical, well-designed facilities, flexible contracts and proximity to other like-minded companies – who can provide mutual support, partnership opportunities and a sense of community.

Each office centre is managed with the environment in mind, and financial, environmental and social performances are audited externally on an annual basis.

Earlier in 2018, the Oxford based company secured a development loan via Lloyds Bank’s green lending initiative to develop The Green House in East London’s Bethnal Green. It will provide 47,000 sq ft of offices and will be built with a target of achieving BREEAM1 rating of Excellent (or Outstanding).

The new building was designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, sustainable building designers who specialise in engineered, cross-laminated timber construction. This form of construction significantly reduces carbon footprint, compared to traditional forms of construction.

‘Our view is that all buildings should be made of timber,’ says architect Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects. ‘We think we should be looking at concrete and steel like we look at petrol and diesel.’

The Green House

Concrete and steel are expensive to manufacture and transport, whereas wood is lighter than concrete and can be grown sustainably. Coupled with the fact that, as trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide from the air, it’s clear that building a high-rise using sustainably-grown timber could significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint.

Cross-laminated timber uses layers of timber glued together at 90-degree angles. It’s of similar strength to concrete and steel, and is not flammable like regular timber. Experts believe that a wooden skyscraper is a very real possibility in the near future.

Conrad Peberdy, Interim Managing Director, from Ethical Property, said: “Our commitment to environmental sustainability is a core part of our DNA. To be rewarded for doing so through bank funding is a major boost to our business and our long-term goals.

“For twenty years we have proven that it is possible to work ethically as a successful company. With plans for long term growth, finding a bank who could offer us the facilities we need as well as one who understands our values was paramount.”

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1 BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), first published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990, is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

2 https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Intelligent_building_management_systems_IBMShttps://www.carbontrust.com/resources/guides/energy-efficiency/lighting/

3 https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=video+%22the+economist%22+cross-laminated+timber+waugh+thistleton&&view=detail&mid=43CE8E50AB68AB0A7D7943CE8E50AB68AB0A7D79&&FORM= VR GAR – Economist video

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