Our recent webinar on ESG highlighted that climate change is arguably the biggest issue facing every industry, and real estate is no exception. In fact, the figures around net zero and the built environment are alarming.
The real estate industry globally (and in the UK) accounts for approximately 40% of all carbon emissions. Those emissions continue to rise. Despite much optimism about the reduction in emissions we have experienced during lockdown, statistics show that even if these reduced levels continued until the net zero target date of 2050, we would still not be carbon neutral.
Global attitudes to climate change vary hugely and last year, the UK was the first national government to declare a Climate Emergency, with the EU following suit swiftly afterwards. We anticipate therefore, that sustainability and other ESG concerns will remain on the agenda for our occupier and landlord clients in the long-term. We expect that we will increasingly see green lease clauses and our occupier clients’ own due diligence focussing on ESG credentials before taking on new premises.
We, and some of our clients, were early adopters of green leases. We have since advised on over 300 leases which include provisions covering environmentally friendly tenant alterations and reinstatement; energy, water and waste data collection; and tenant involvement on matters relating to energy, water and waste efficiency. For some clients we also monitor and report monthly on how many of the leases we deal with for them contain these types of clauses.
We have been advising on the implications for our occupier and landlord clients of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards which have the potential to make less efficient commercial premises unlettable or undesirable. We have drafted and negotiated lease clauses covering tenant alterations which affect the efficiency of premises, landlords’ ability to do upgrade works, responsibility for upgrade costs and landlord and tenant obligations to ensure premises do not become substandard.
We have also advised about who should be financially responsible for upgrade works in lease renewals carried out under the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.