26 FEBRUARY 2024

Grosvenor hits 1 million sq. ft. retrofit milestone

  • Investments in energy efficiency and low carbon development have supported 32% reduction in UK property business’ emissions  
  • Another 250,000 sq ft will be retrofitted in 2024 in support of net zero carbon goal 
  • Grosvenor is calling for a National Retrofit Strategy to address the barriers property owners and occupiers face to retrofitting 

Grosvenor’s UK property business today announces it has successfully retrofitted over 1 million sq. ft. ospace across its London estate. This represents a significant milestone in the company's £90million commitment to improve the environmental performance of its portfolio in the capital, and its wider ambition to reach net zero. 

Since launching its retrofit programme in 2020, over 360 offices, shops, and homes have been transformed to optimise energy efficiencyMany of these projects of which around 70% are commercial and 30% residential were completed with occupiers in situ; with interventions including converting lightbulbs to LEDs, installing double glazed windows and insulation.  

55 boilers have also been also decommissioned so far and replaced with fossil fuel-free alternatives helping to drive a 40% reduction in gas usage since Grosvenor Property UK’s carbon baseline was established in 2019.  

The business’ development programme is also prioritising retrofits. Since 2020 an additional  250,000 sq. ft. of space has been refurbishedrather than being demolished, to save carbon. This includes the delivery of Grosvenor’s first net zero carbon office building, Holbein Gardens, and the transformation of Newson’s Yardsto create a new design industry destination in Belgravia from a former timber yard and significant refurbishments of The Barley Mow and The Audley, two grade II listed pubs in Mayfair. 

George Dean, General Manager of the Barley Mow, a Cubitt House pub, shares: We worked closely with Grosvenor to redevelop the Barley Mow, while keeping its 1800s characterWe knew from the start that we were going to have a gas-less kitchen, which we had never done before; but its been a massive positive for us. We now have the most sustainable kitchen across Cubitt House’s pubsit’s cost-efficient, provides a safer environment for our chefs, and in the long run, creates a more sustainable workplace. We are looking to expand our use of gas-less cooking in the future. 

In 2024, Grosvenor will solidify its focus on deeper retrofits, tackling a further 250,000 sq. ft. as part of its £90million programme to future-proof its historic London estate. Additionally, the company will refurbish fourteen listed buildings as part of its South Molton developmentThrough innovative solutions such as the use of recycled steel, reclaimed bricks and anti-pollutant tiles, the upgrades will leave historic external structures largely untouched; not only reducing embodied carbon emissions but increasing day to day energy efficiency 

Ed Green, Sustainability Director at Grosvenor Property UK, said: The built environment is responsible for 78% of the capital’s carbon emissionsIn a year when we consistently breached the 1.5oC barrier for the first timedecarbonising homes and workspaces must be accelerated   

“Simple cost-effective changes can significantly reduce energy demand and improve a building’s sustainability. Acting now to make straightforward low cost changes is a more effective approach than postponing activity until a full building refurbishment may be possible.” 

To drive action at scale, Grosvenor supports the creation of a National Retrofit Strategy which can bring together the essential planning support, skills, funding and advice needed to address barriers to retrofitting. Among other considerations, the company suggests an assessment of: 

  • Incentives and financing options available, to encourage retrofitting. There are clear international precedents to borrow from, with the equalisation of VAT with new builds a key starting point. 
  • Standards to give people and businesses confidence to invest in their buildings.  
  • The Apprenticeship Levy and locally led skills plansunlocking unspent funds to develop retrofit skills and the green economy. 

Ed Green adds: Long-term political commitment is the key to unlocking the barriers to retrofit. The scale of the challenge is such that without a concerted national approach driven by government, the country will fail to benefit from the broad range of socio-economic benefits it would derive from decarbonising the built environment.” 

“Our research shows that improving the energy efficiency of historic properties alone could reduce operational carbon emissions from the UK’s buildings by c5% per year* and generate £35 billion of output in the economy.” 

The state has the unique ability to create the conditions that would give businesses the confidence to invest and encourage people to retrofit their homes. A national approach, backed with appropriate levels of investment and political ambition is the crucial missing piece.  

Grosvenor’s UK property business has some of the most stretching environmental sustainability  ambitions in its sector. The company has committed to reducing emissions from its buildings,  developments and supply chain by 90%, by 2040. Among other achievements, it was the first in the UK to attain NABERs ratings for office buildings in London and Leeds – widely considered to be a world-leading environmental performance tool for commercial buildings. Between 2019 and 2022, the company also reduced emissions across its entire activity by 32%.  

See Heritage and Carbon Can Historic Buildings Help Tackle Climate Change (2021) and Addressing the Skills Gap (2023) 

Rachel Garstang

Head of Corporate Communications & Stakeholder Engagement Grosvenor

+44 (0)20 7312 2341 ext.6957

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