Important information 

As of 9th October, Waystone will be the fund ACD and any reference to Link or LF should be taken as WS or Waystone.

Integrating stewardship and investment - Property

The situation

We’re committed to measuring and improving our environmental performance across our property assets to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. We knew that there were certain properties in the portfolio that weren’t as efficient as they could be either due to their age, design or operation. Given this fact, we aimed to identify, where feasible, cost-efficient improvements to protect the future quality of each property and ensure it meets our net zero carbon target.

Starting in 2019, we sought to identify priority assets for sustainability audits, set out energy efficiency measures and identify assets which would benefit from retrofit to all-electric heating and cooling systems. Audits, completed by suitably qualified specialists, aim to identify where improvement objectives could be established for individual assets.

The analysis considers:

  • Landlord and tenant responsibilities
  • Opportunities for improvement
  • Technology options
  • Investment plans for the asset
  • Existing green ratings
  • Energy performance certificate information
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Climate resilience

The solution

Following discussions with our energy consultants, we recommended the phased completion of sustainability audits at all key properties to include a cross-section of sectors and tenant or landlord managed assets. The process began in 2019 and prioritised larger properties with the most energy consumption or landlord control. This helped us focus on properties where changes could make the most difference. Since then, we’ve instructed eight further audits (including five in 2021) on properties across our UK Property ACS where we sought to establish current building performance in terms of energy, water, waste and wellness, to understand operational set-up and to identify technological and operational saving opportunities.

Through this process, we target properties that have the most material impact on our portfolio and haven’t previously had an audit undertaken in the previous two years or as part of an acquisition process. We aim to target a cross-section of assets and in 2021, included some that were let entirely to one tenant, such as a single-let warehouse/office asset in Hemel Hempstead to promote landlord/tenant collaboration. Audit findings are reviewed and circulated to our internal asset managers and external property managers with an instruction to attend to the ‘quick win’ suggestions, such as improve waste recycling, manage heating, ventilation and air conditioning operating hours and install LED lighting. Other suggestions include medium to longer-term solutions such as, water efficiency measures, wellness opportunities, installing photovoltaic panels on some of the industrial and retail warehouse properties and upgrading mechanical plant and/or building management systems at offices.

In certain cases, the audits are shared directly with our tenants. Budget costs are provided along with potential energy consumption reduction estimates and pay-back periods. 

The result

By presenting specific examples of how the properties could be improved and indicative costs in a targeted and tailored way, our aim was to encourage positive change at our properties in cooperation with our tenants. We wanted to act as a trusted partner helping occupiers to achieve their sustainability goals, relying on our commitment, diligence and property expertise to deliver positive change. This also serves as an example of change engagements undertaken by our property team for the purposes of Principle 9. In 2019, a Sustainability Audit was undertaken on Regent Arcade Shopping Centre, by our environmental consultants. This was forwarded to the appointed managing agents to action and progress. It was then discussed at both quarterly meetings and six-monthly site inspections with our property manager. This has resulted in recommendations being progressed. Energy and water saving initiatives have already been completed with further projects planned or being considered.

Below are examples of action resulting from audits at Regent Arcade Shopping Centre, Cheltenham, in 2021.

  • A rolling programme of installing new LED lighting throughout continued in 2021, with 80% of lighting now replaced. 
  • Water management initiatives undertaken, such as waterless urinals.
  • Upgrading meter technology to provide more accurate measurements and, adding timers to existing boilers to ensure efficient use out of hours. In earlier years, initiatives such as photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof and we took steps to consolidate cleaning schedules to ensure that lighting was used efficiently out of hours.