Spotlight Review

'Leading a Greener City'
Greater London Authority

A key set piece of Green Sky Thinking Week 2013 was a roundtable discussion at Siemens ‘The Crystal’ hosted by Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Environment Advisor, and chaired by Stephen Tate, Assistant Director - Environment, at the Greater London Authority.
The primary purpose of the roundtable session was to meet with key representatives of London-based businesses to:

  • better understand the business opportunities businesses perceive with respect to the sustainability agenda;
  • explore Mayoral policies and objectives and hear about any concerns businesses have with respect to the sustainability agenda of the Mayor and the Greater London Authority; and,
  • discuss how London can be promoted as a sustainable city ‘global leader’ and the business and economic opportunities that arise.

Twenty senior executives of major companies agreed to participate in the round-table discussion. Including, Julie Alexander - Siemens; Michaela Winter - Gensler; Dennis Hayter - Intelligent Energy; Neil Pennell - Land Securities; Munish Datta - Marks & Spencer; Tom Appleton - Rocket Investments; Sarah Cary - British Land; Richard Francis - Gardiner & Theobald; Jenny Pidgeon - Henderson Global Investment; Nick Hayes - EC Harris; Jon Kirkpatrick - Lend Lease; Craig Beresford - Waterman Group; Simon Attwood - ISG; Clare Wildfire - Mott Macdonald; Isabel Mcallister - MACE; Julian Tollast- Quintain Estate; Andy Ford - South Bank University; Victoria Thornton - Open-City; Shane Clarke - Team London Bridge; Doug Mann - Axis Europe.

The Mayor’s Environment Agenda

The environment agenda of the Mayor’s office and the Greater London Authority is shapd by three key themes:

Growing the Green Economy
London is already one of the leaders of the global green economy, including the low carbon goods and services and low emission vehicle technologies sectors.

Our objectives are to:
· Understand the low carbon, green services and low emission vehicle technologies sectors, its strengths in London and how the GLA group can maximise the economic opportunities.
· Use the profile of the Mayor and GLA to promote London’s green economy.
Key discussion points:
· How do we meet the challenge of improving environmental standards in a climate of short-term cost constraint?
· How can be best articulate London’s green economy ‘USP’?

Securing London’s Energy Future and Becoming a Resource Efficient City
The Mayor’s has set a target to reduce London’s emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 (from a 1990 baseline). We must also reduce total waste and turn the waste that we do generate into new materials and low carbon energy. With water too we must lessen the amount that is used.

Our objectives are to:
· Deliver a low carbon, local energy supply for London by supporting decentralised energy generation.
· Ensure that London’s businesses and homes can realise cost savings by being more energy efficient.
· Create an environment that supports and encourages investment in recycling and producing energy from waste where appropriate.
Key discussion points:
· How do we better address energy efficiency in the existing building stock?
· How to incentivise or prescribe the way people consume power to make energy use more efficient?
· How do we better encourage uptake of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles across the private and commercial fleet sectors?
· How do we reduce food waste and best utilise any residual waste as an asset.

Becoming a Resilient and Greener City
Resilient cities are better places to live and better able to cope with both a changing climate and some of the other environmental issues of urban environments such as episodes of poor air quality. Londoners consistently tell us that clean and safe streets, unpolluted air, parks and public places enhance their quality of life.

Our objectives are to:
· Deliver a programme of green infrastructure which improves the look and feel of London to promote a greener, safer and cleaner London.
· Increase the resilience of London’s communities, businesses, and infrastructure and to the likely impacts of climate change including increased surface water flood events and overheating.
· Ensure London has the best air quality of any major global city.

Key discussion points:
· How can the private sector contribute to better design and management of the public realm?
· How can we promote the benefits of greening?

N.B. An important contextual issue in respect of all of the above is the increasing role of local communities, community leaders and the third sector as powerful forces for change. How do public sector/private sector partnerships engage with and support citizen activism?

Headlines and Key Messages from the Round-Table Discussion

Sustainability and resilience will be key competitiveness issues for cities in the future, particularly with respect to: energy supply and use; transport; and quality of public realm. Consequently the Mayor and London’s businesses need to identify key ‘single voice’ messages regarding London’s status as a city ‘ready and resilient’ to face and shape a sustainable future.

Encouraging and supporting behaviour change is one area where this ‘single voice’ could be expressed, particularly in relation to the use of energy; with ‘Open City’ being an effective way to reach audiences along with smart mobile devices and applications.. There needs to be a consumer-friendly debate and dialogue about the need to reduce energy demand, not only because of the cost-savings that can accrue but to ensure that the impending potential energy gap facing London in the years ahead is being addressed. Energy ratings and energy efficiency standards are valuable and important but these can be heavily skewed by the way people use buildings and products; there can be disconnect between rhetoric and reality with regards to environmental performance. Tools, technologies and approaches to manage and save energy need to more widely adopted. Quantifying socio-economic benefits that relate to the consumer and the public is required.

Collectively we need to convey the message to the wider public that sustainability equates to good quality of life; and a message to the wider business community that the sustainability agenda is about ‘mitigating future economic loss’, ‘management of risk’ and ‘creation of new wealth and investment’
Some specific points:

  • Lack of awareness of potential impending energy gap – a big issue for London businesses. Some major strategic, bolder decisions need to be taken in relation to: energy from waste; catalysing de-centralised energy; infrastructure for alternatively fuelled vehicles; and how to better utilise London’s existing stand-by capacity and internal energy generation.
  • Need to understand the business case for improving London’s energy security – ‘invest to save’. How can the case be made and a consensus built around it to secure that investment.
  • Community buy-in must be secured if decentralised energy is to be delivered at a meaningful scale.
  • Flood maps and communication of will enable citizen engagement and empowerment to encourage key actors to respond.
  • Lots of exemplar projects and innovation is happening, e.g. new powertrains for vehicles – hydrogen fuel cells, heat exchange technology, but how do we make these more publically ‘visible’ and ‘understood’.
  • Green Deal - concern that only 20% of public aware and less than 5% take up.
  • What is the scope for green bonds to support green investment, through the Green Investment Bank or a London Green Investment Fund? Green Investment Bank terms are not competitive for business.
  • Vocational training to generate the skill base required for a green economy needs to be addressed by academic providers and business in collaboration.
  • Green leases have provided a useful mechanism for improving dialogue between landlords and tenants re improved environmental performance of buildings.
  • The Mayor and GLA have limited ability to push the boundaries of national policy and legislation – greater delegation is required.