Cost model: low-carbon office developments – new-build vs refurbishment

Network W1 for web

Source: LL&Co

Multiple pathways are emerging to support the development of low-carbon offices, whether through new-build or, increasingly, reuse and adaptation

01 / Introduction

In 2021, the last time we produced a cost model for commercial offices, we concluded that “many net-zero carbon offices have been planned; few have been delivered”.

Progress has since been made, but other trends and themes have emerged, changing the conversation. Two years on, greenwashing is now a key threat to credibly reaching net zero goals and building trust in the decarbonisation abilities and efforts of the industry.

To counteract greenwash, science-based targets and guidance for buildings’ operational and embodied carbon are gathering pace.

Multiple pathways are emerging to support the development of verifiable, data-backed decarbonised buildings. These range from RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge, to LETI, to the introduction of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) planning guidance on whole-lifecycle carbon, to the upcoming UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard.

These pathways are setting expectations, educating the industry, and – in the case of future government-issued building standards – creating legal obligations for how much carbon a building is allowed to embody and emit.

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