Gardiner & Theobald - Sponsors of Green Sky Thinking Week 2013

GT“Our support of Green Sky Thinking last year was one of the best things we did.  It brought industry and Government leaders to our door and opened up new discussions and opportunities for our business across the board.  Being associated with Green Sky Thinking is synonymous with being caring, curious, current and committed.  We are pleased to continue to support Green Sky Thinking again this year because it is a triple win:  good for the environment, good for our business, and, most importantly, good for the people whose places we are helping to create.”
Richard Francis, Director, Environment & Sustainability, Gardiner & Theobald


Gardiner & Theobald are an independent global consultancy offering a range of services to the construction and property industry. They provide project, cost and construction management for clients throughout the world as well as a range of other complementary services. G&T have extensive experience in sustainability. They have written industry guidance for the Government's Carbon Reduction Commitment regulation, advised the Department of Energy and Climate Change on its formulation, and provided Government with official costs for low/zero carbon buildings. The advisory role that they fulfill for central Government provides them with unique insights that they can apply in their work with clients. G&T take their leadership role seriously. On 14 February they hosted a sustainability seminar for the retail property professional association on the topic of how to make energy efficiency economically viable.

Open-City welcome their support of Green Sky Thinking Week 2013.
As part of the 2013 programme of Green Sky Thinking, Gardiner & Theobald have partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers and British Council for Offices to host 'Building Mission: Optimising Outcomes for Occupants'. Find out more about the event.

'Principles Before Policies:  Why Sustainability Requires Excellence, not Compliance'

Thought Piece of Gardiner & Theobald

It can be difficult to do the right thing, and no more so than in sustainability.  Even companies that want to be responsible are confounded by a sea of regulation and standards whose utility is questionable: low carbon standards that do not deliver low carbon buildings in practice; expensive renewable energy technologies that satisfy planners but almost no one else; costly building certifications (BREEAM or LEED) that do not guarantee energy efficient properties.  Those sceptical of sustainability have every right to be cautious, as until now it has been synonymous with compliance, costs and a curious lack of demonstrated value.

The field of regulation is more crowded now than five years ago, but there is a single defining (and welcome) trend – an emphasis on performance.  Newer regulation (Display Energy Certificates for public buildings, the Carbon Reduction Commitment, mandatory carbon reporting) focuses less upon design standards and more on actual outcomes, with less consideration of what buildings are and more of what they do.  This is a fundamental shift observable not only in the UK but around the world.  

Secondly, the market understanding of sustainability is becoming far more sophisticated.   Occupiers are less enamoured with add-ons and far more interested in how buildings enhance company mission and reputation.   It is no surprise, then, that buildings that perform better are sought after, since these have fewer costs and risks.  These are not necessarily the same buildings with good design credentials or environmental badges:  indeed it is possible to have a highly certified building that performs poorly.  This is the worst (and unfortunately common) scenario:  a building that has cost a lot to build and will cost a lot to run.  That is why smart occupiers are looking right past the design credentials and, in the case of new buildings, performing due diligence on the certifications themselves to see whether they were the result of good thought or an exercise in cost-effective box ticking!

The research from the United States, which has both design-based (LEED) and performance-based (Energy Star) standards is instructive.  While LEED buildings command an initial premium, this soon fades as evidence about how the building works becomes known, while Energy Star buildings (which earn the moniker by demonstrating on-going energy efficiency in practice) attract higher paying tenants and buyers.  The message is clear – principles of property performance, not prescriptive (and restrictive) policies create buildings that create value.

For clients looking to minimise risk, the message is unequivocal – beware of thinking that compliance or certifications are enough.   Instead, the smart move is to view compliance not as an end in itself but as means to enabling occupants to achieve future environmental and financial goals.  The industry -- both in terms of regulation and market expectations -- is shifting from what we put into buildings to what we get out.  Working to this principle -- and not policies that may disappear – will yield properties that are resilient, not expedient.    It is the difference between compliance and excellence.