Career Location: Cambridge

Ireland has committed to decarbonisation. Can its built environment deliver?

Ireland’s commercial real estate industry is on the cusp of a significant transformation as it prepares for the introduction of the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) aimed at decarbonising the built environment. In addition, those in Northern Ireland may soon have their own Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), based on the UK system for regulating energy efficiency in buildings. Are both regions ready to act on those goals?

TFT’s Dublin office lead, Kevin Brannigan, and Senior Director Neil Granger recently contributed a piece for React News outlining the challenges facing Ireland when it comes to decarbonising its existing buildings.

You can read that article here.

New decarbonisation legislation: why now?

Incoming legislation and enforcement are part of international efforts to mitigate climate change by enhancing building performance and reducing embodied carbon in the construction and maintenance of buildings. The adoption of MEPS in particular presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for Ireland. Navigating those will require a nuanced understanding of the country’s building stock and infrastructure, as well as taking lessons from other markets.

The MEPS is rooted in EU directives for member states to set minimum requirements for energy performance of new and existing buildings, and also to drive renovation which creates more efficient buildings. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires member states to establish energy certification schemes for buildings, meaning all buildings newly constructed, sold, or rented out must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) which provides data including energy consumption and carbon emissions. Furthermore, the Energy Efficiency Directive also requires member states to set out a long-term strategy for the renovation of buildings, with the aim of improving their energy efficiency.

But how do these directives interact with the built environment industry, and what is the state of the market for new technologies, tools and practices which will help create more efficient buildings?

The full picture of decarbonisation

The current standard of sustainability reporting in the real estate industry is a primary concern. Reports which do not provide actionable insights, repeating only best practice advice against industry standards, often leave building owners no wiser as to how they should improve their assets.

Each building presents a unique and complex picture of performance. Finding scope to improve requires a multidisciplinary approach.

TFT analysis combines sustainability expertise with building surveying and engineering skillsets to offer detailed reports which focus on how buildings can improve. Our goal is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, creating more valuable buildings today, with future resilience built in.

As we anticipate the finalisation of the MEPS legislation, several practical challenges emerge:

1. New habits and new technologies

The transition to decarbonisation requires moving beyond like-for-like replacement at the end of a building’s lifecycle. For instance, Scotland’s forthcoming ban on combustion in buildings highlights the shift towards electric solutions, such as heat pumps, rather than pure gas systems, or connection to low carbon heat networks. These are common technologies in some European markets, but have been seen as emerging technologies here in Ireland, and in the UK.

Whereas the concept of upgrading systems rather than simply replacing them is not standard practice, building owners in Ireland need to factor this into their maintenance programmes and noting where void periods can allow timely upgrades to keep their buildings ahead of the curve and avoid more costly works further down the line.

2. Supply chain and skills

One reason why heat pumps are seen to be novel in the Irish market is because we do not have as sophisticated a supply chain and are still working out how best to retrofit these systems in our building stock. In regions which embraced heat pumps already, like Germany and Scandinavia the technology has become an established part of the building stock.  

Ireland’s shortfall in specialist skillsets and a market for the products themselves is something the government can address by investing in training for these areas of expertise. Meanwhile, building owners can be proactive to get advice from their consultants and project teams on learnings from established markets, but will likely face higher initial costs to bring those technologies in effectively.

3. Infrastructure and grid capacity

Ireland’s commitment to decarbonise its built environment is limited by its infrastructure capacity and flexibility. Both urban and rural areas will confront similar infrastructure challenges, including the need for significant additional electrical infrastructure which will be limited by available city centre space, and connectivity in rural locations.

The overall readiness of the grid is a key concern: how many all or part-electric buildings can be served by Ireland’s power output? Outside Dublin, all-electric buildings are rare, and any available capacity will soon be taken up as forward-thinking developers seek to get ahead of the market.

Learning from other policies for decarbonisation

The transition to MEPS offers a chance to learn from established markets. Scotland’s forthcoming Heat in Buildings Standard (HIBS) and MEES in England and Wales provide useful precedents for both domestic and non-domestic, noting that further consultation is ongoing, specifically on the implications of HIBS for non-domestic buildings.

There is a consensus among consultants that the way HIBS is applied to commercial buildings is not currently well defined. In particular, there is a lack of detail on how to deal with heritage buildings, which present a major opportunity to improve our sector’s performance as a whole.

Moreover, the broader policy recommendations towards net zero carbon, such as those proposed by the Green Building Councils and British Property Federation (BPF), offer a broader view for a roadmap to integrate sustainable practices into the real estate sector, drawing from initiatives in Europe and in North America. Embracing whole-life carbon, creating a base of skilled support for new solutions, and properly incentivising investment remain challenging but there are good ideas for making progress.

Cause for optimism

While we hope legislation will set the pace and encourage a higher-performing built environment overall, we also see a clear commercial and strategic benefit to seeking more ambitious targets independently.

Staying ahead of the market, and ahead of occupier expectations, is essential to avoid assets being seen as poorer quality or ultimately becoming stranded. The industry’s progress to mitigate these risks over the decades ahead will propel (and be propelled by) by technological advances and legislative frameworks that are yet to come.

By demanding actionable reporting and focusing on the specific challenges of today’s buildings, stakeholders can pave the way for future innovations and industry advancements.

Whether you are preparing for the implementation of MEPS, or seeking a more strategic, holistic approach to improving your buildings, TFT is on hand to provide detailed, actionable analysis that sets you up for success.

Are you part of Ireland’s transition to a more sustainable built environment? Are you looking for support to understand these goals and adapt existing buildings to meet them?

Get in touch with Kevin Brannigan and Neil Granger to find out more.

Senior Project Manager / Associate Project Manager

This is an excellent opportunity to work as part of the growing Birmingham development and project consultancy team, providing high calibre project management services to high end commercial clients. You will deliver current workload, including investor led refurbishment, added value and new build schemes across commercial office, residential, retail and industrial asset classes, as well as build relationships with existing and new clients. This is an excellent opportunity for a senior project manager or for someone looking to make the step up to associate level to work with a people focused organisation and our enviable client list.

Key accountabilities

  1. Primarily working within the commercial sector, undertaking:
  2. Project management services on office, retail, residential (and other) new build, refurbishment, alteration, extension, and fit-out projects on schemes typically ranging from £2m to £30m, but with some far in excess of this.
  3. Contract Administration and Employer’s Agent Role
  4. Enhance TFT’s service offering for project delivery
  5. Good working knowledge of key JCT contracts, including experience in contractual issues such as extension of time, loss and expense claims etc.
  6. Building new business to support strategic growth objectives by securing repeat business through successful project delivery.

Performance criteria

  1. MRICS or MAPM qualified ideally from a Building Surveying or technical background (Architecture or Engineering for example)
  2. Strong relevant track record in project delivery (with large degree of autonomy)
  3. Ability to meet and exceed fee targets
  4. Building client relationships with positive outcomes
  5. Leading project teams and building trust

Skills and behaviour

  1. Business focussed
  2. Sought out by existing clients for repeat business
  3. Socially adept and networks at business development events
  4. Confident, client facing communicator both verbally and in writing
  5. Able to manage and lead others and project team
  6. Lateral mindedness – able to think creatively to develop the brief, assemble the team and drive them through the feasibility, outline, detailed and final proposals stages of the design.
  7. Organised and able to manage multiple key project issues to ensure projects remain on track.
  8. Commercially driven
  9. Comfortable as the key client contact for each project
  10. Must be a positive team player but able to work independently

What’s in it for you?

  • Competitive salary and car allowance. Flexible & hybrid working.
  • Rewarding career with excellent career opportunities. We create personalised career development plans and promotion is based on performance and not time served.
  • Fee Plus bonus scheme, mobile phone & laptop, Personal Accident cover, Private Health Care (after 6 months), Life Assurance, 25 days holiday, annual wellbeing and volunteering day. Company pension scheme after 3 months.
  • Season Ticket Loan and Cycle scheme on completion of probationary period.

We are BCorp Certified!

As TFT’s impact on the world has grown with the size of our business and the scale of our client services, we are determined that our future growth continues to be positive and sustainable. B Corp certification enables us to do just that, by recognising the highest standards of social and environmental performance and aligning our ongoing efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.tftconsultants.com/tft-is-a-certified-b-corp/

DEI at TFT

At TFT we don’t aim to tick boxes and count numbers and percentages, we create an environment where anyone, from any background and life experience, can do their best work. We empower you to bring your full, authentic self to work. We are diverse by nature and inclusive by choice.

If you’re driven to perform, you’ll fit right in, we approach work fearlessly, learn quickly and improve constantly. A bright idea can come from anyone. We believe diversity drives innovation.

Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion is simple – we welcome everyone. We wouldn’t approach a building survey in a one-dimensional way, so we don’t our people.

About TFT

TFT is the leading independent firm of Development, Built Asset & Engineering and Sustainability consultants. We place the wellbeing of people and the performance of buildings at the heart of everything we do.

We’re proud of our reputation for integrity and delivering work of the highest quality, blended with commercial pragmatism. We offer a strong track record across all commercial property sectors, advising investors, developers, occupiers and owners on maximising best property asset values. Diversity and strength in depth is important to us. Whether it be a technical thought leader with a career’s experience – or a recently qualified rising star – in today’s risk averse world you need people on your side with a reputation for diligence, transparency, intellect and commercial insight. Clients see TFT as large enough to provide the expertise and resources to get the best from their portfolios, and small enough for it to matter personally.

We have over 180 partners and employees operating from a network of offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Manchester, Leeds and Southampton.

TFT is passionate about people development and will provide you with excellent and progressive career opportunities and sponsored learning.

Staff Stories – Alasdair Balfour

Meet Alasdair Balfour, a Director from the Edinburgh office.

In this video, Alasdair gives us a deep dive into his experience and how he got to where he is today, the motivations behind his work, as well as giving us insight into his life outside of work.

Want to watch the rest of our Staff Stories? You can watch them all here.

TFT supports purchase of Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel, for Archer Hotels

On the corner of St Stephen’s Green sits the Shelbourne Hotel, one of Dublin’s architectural and social landmarks, and a fascinating building too! Our team got behind its iconic Georgian façade to understand the building, its current condition and its future outlook, for Archer Hotel Capital.

Our work helped Archer to undertake its purchase of this iconic asset with confidence, and to inform future plans for looking after and improving it. TFT provided a holistic view of the building, from its structure to its mechanical & electrical services, assessing its sustainable performance and future potential.

This holistic approach to Technical Due Diligence is increasingly important for our clients, who seek our multidisciplinary team of surveyors, engineers and specialists in sustainable performance, to provide a broader view of the potential risks and opportunities which each building offers.

Getting a full and detailed picture of an asset in this way is essential to realise the value of our built environment today, and to make it more resilient for the future.

You can read more about this purchase in The Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/business/2024/03/29/shelbourne-hotel-in-dublin-sold-to-archer-hotel-capital/

Senior Building Surveyor

An excellent opportunity for a Chartered/Senior Building Surveyor to become part of our growing building surveying team in our London office working on a wide and varied range of building surveying disciplines in a commercial environment. We have an enviable and national client base including The Crown Estate, Aviva, Legal & General and M&G among others.

You will have the opportunity to gain more autonomy, build client relationships and have the potential to specialise in a chosen area as you progress through your career. You will be part of a flexible and very supportive environment with great opportunities for career progression.

Key accountabilities

Primarily working within the commercial sector undertaking a wide range of building surveying, but not limited to:

  1. Contract administration
  2. Technical Due Diligence
  3. Dilapidations
  4. Building Pathology
  5. General building surveying commercial work in line with a Chartered Building Surveyor role

Performance criteria

  1. Degree in Building Surveying & MRICS
  2. Accurate report writing skills
  3. Experience of working in a pro-active commercial environment
  4. Sound knowledge of building contracts in a commercial context
  5. Proven ability to meet and exceed fee targets and generate new business through building successful client relationships
  6. Commercially astute
  7. Embraces technology
  8. High level of up-to-date technical building knowledge

Skills and behaviour

  1. Must be a good team player and able to work independently
  2. Confident and concise communicator both verbally and in writing
  3. Business focused and willing to be involved in business development and building client relationships
  4. Thorough understanding of the needs and demands of clients
  5. Full driving licence and access to a car

Package indicators

Competitive salary plus benefits: Car allowance, Fee related bonus scheme, iPhone & Laptop to support flexible & hybrid working, Private Health Care (after 6 months), career development investment, Personal Accident cover, Life Assurance, 25 days holiday, long service awards, 1 day charity leave, professional membership subscription and company pension scheme (after 3 months)

Cycle scheme and interest free season ticket loan available on completion of probationary period.

About TFT

TFT is the leading independent firm of Development, Built Asset & Engineering and Sustainability consultants. We place the wellbeing of people and the performance of buildings at the heart of everything we do.

We’re proud of our reputation for integrity and delivering work of the highest quality, blended with commercial pragmatism. We offer a strong track record across all commercial property sectors, advising investors, developers, occupiers and owners on maximising best property asset values. Diversity and strength in depth is important to us. Whether it be a technical thought leader with a career’s experience – or a recently qualified rising star – in today’s risk averse world you need people on your side with a reputation for diligence, transparency, intellect and commercial insight. Clients see TFT as large enough to provide the expertise and resources to get the best from their portfolios, and small enough for it to matter personally.

We have over 180 employees operating from a network of offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Manchester, Leeds and Southampton.

TFT is passionate about people development and will provide you with excellent and progressive career opportunities and sponsored learning.

We are BCorp Certified!

As TFT’s impact on the world has grown with the size of our business and the scale of our client services, we are determined that our future growth continues to be positive and sustainable. B Corp certification enables us to do just that, by recognising the highest standards of social and environmental performance and aligning our ongoing efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.tftconsultants.com/tft-is-a-certified-b-corp/

DEI at TFT

At TFT we don’t aim to tick boxes and count numbers and percentages, we create an environment where anyone, from any background and life experience, can do their best work. We empower you to bring your full, authentic self to work. We are diverse by nature and inclusive by choice.

If you’re driven to perform, you’ll fit right in, we approach work fearlessly, learn quickly and improve constantly. A bright idea can come from anyone. We believe diversity drives innovation.

Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion is simple – we welcome everyone. We wouldn’t approach a building survey in a one-dimensional way, so we don’t our people.

 

10 Spring Gardens, London

Previously occupied by the British Council, The Crown Estate are fully refurbishing the building to provide around 80,000 sqft of sustainable workspace, distributed over ground floor, basement and eight upper storeys, as well as greening in and around the building CAT A, office space, co-working space and a café which leads on to a piazza. TFT is part of a wider project team and is involved in Project Management, and Employer’s Agent services.

The building hopes to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Outstanding’ at completion with a 5 star NABERS target rating.

Image credit: Glass Canvas

Emily Baigent

Emily is based in TFT’s Edinburgh office and sits across the Energy & Carbon and Sustainability teams. Her project experience covers a range of commercial property types for services relating to all aspects of energy & carbon reduction, including net zero strategy, and sustainability at all stages of an asset’s life.

In the time since joining, she has contributed to the production of publications including the RICS iSURV Whole Life Carbon update and BE News. As a Scottish Property Federation (SPF) Futures member, Emily also sits on the Sustainability and Building Design Committee in Scotland.

Outreach is an important aspect of her work as she is committed to LGBTQIA+ allyship, encouraging women into STEM and the construction industry, and introducing the world of surveying and sustainability to a wider demographic of young people.

Read more

Hello.

Outside of work I am a serial hobby collector – predominantly relating toward sport. I used to compete nationally at dressage before I gave up horses in 2018 shortly before I moved to university. I moved from the south of England to Edinburgh in 2022. This was as I love the abundance of outdoor space you have access to up here, alongside the benefits of living within a capital city.

I have also been to a number of wonderful places including Cambodia, Uganda, and a lot of Europe. I have many more plans to keep travelling and am always interested in discovering how to travel in a sustainable/ less impactful manner.

Lion Yard

Lion Yard is located in the centre of Cambridge and is the oldest of Cambridge’s three shopping centres. It sits within a conservation area just off Market Square. TFT was appointed as Project Manager, Employer’s Agent, Sustainability and Energy Consultant, Principal Designer, Party Wall Surveyor and Rights of Light / Daylight Sunlight Surveyor for these major refurbishment works being undertaken within a live shopping environment.

The works will be undertaken in several phases. Firstly, the sub-station in the basement will be moved and upgraded to make way for a new nightclub, currently located on the 3rd floor. Once the nightclub is relocated, floors 1, 2 & 3 above the shopping centre will be converted from offices to a 130-bed hotel. At the same time, a new Food and Beverage Quarter with public realm will be constructed.

The project is not without challenges. TFT identified the drainage provision for the hotel as a potential risk from the start of the project. With most retail units below occupied, options were limited and the drainage routes to the basement were limited. The restricted floor-to-ceiling heights reduced the options available to run new drainage in raised floor voids. TFT knew that hotel operators would not accept pumped or vacuum drainage systems and the decision was taken to accelerate the drainage design early in the design process. As a result of this, routes for new drainage drops were identified and concentrated in areas which didn’t affect existing retailers.

Photovoltaics will be installed on the roof of the hotel. The scheme is targeting a minimum of BREEAM “Very Good” to meet both the client and proposed hotel operator’s corporate social responsibility objectives.

TFT’s first annual B Corp impact report is here

TFT became B Corp certified at the end of 2022, as part of our commitment to creating more positive impacts through our work and the way we operate as a business.

Now, one year in to our journey, we are publishing TFT’s first ever B Impact Report. This is our snapshot of 2023 from the perspective of the five B Corp impact pillars: Employees, Environment, Community, Customers and Governance.

Last year we celebrated our 50th birthday with two big announcements: we established TFT’s Employee Ownership Trust and we launched our in-house training and development platform to keep our team ahead of ever-advancing industry best practice.

But there has been so much more going on!

We continued to drive decarbonisation across the built environment with all our services. We aligned all our offices to rigorous environmental standards. We welcomed more graduate and placement roles into our team than ever before. We became B Corp advocates with one-to-one support for clients and industry peers, as well as joining industry debate on certification and what it all means. We campaigned for better policies from government to support Net Zero Carbon goals. Our team published industry guidance for Whole Life Carbon management across the building lifecycle. And we supported national and local charities with our time, resources and financial support.

All of these achievements, and more, are steps on our sustainable growth journey. We look forward to more progress still to come, and hope you’ll join us along the way!

Check out our full report via the link below.  

TFT CPD sessions: Sustainable due diligence: the right data at the right time for transactions

Today’s buildings face tough challenges from market expectations, sustainability commitments and ESG objectives. What needs to be done to make these existing assets more valuable today and more resilient for tomorrow? 

On November 28th, TFT kicked off its latest knowledge-sharing session on this topic. We held ‘Decarbonisation: the future for today’s buildings’ at RSA House; and featured three panel sessions combining expert advisors from the TFT team with project partners and client guests to bring multiple perspectives to the conversation.  

The morning began with a look at commercial real estate acquisitions; a time-sensitive and often high-stakes process in which purchasers need to see the opportunities and challenges posed by a given asset, and vendors need to present a clear case to the market. 

Panel overview: 

Our panel for ‘Sustainable due diligence: the right data at the right time for transactions’ discussed the importance of understanding an asset’s sustainable credentials and potential within the typically tight timelines of a real estate transaction.   

Our panellists were:  

Jay began by talking through the changing nature of building acquisitions and the need for a clearer understanding of a building’s sustainable potential. He noted how Technical Due Diligence (TDD) reports have evolved from mere snapshots of a building’s physical state to become templates or roadmaps for post-acquisition improvement works. 

From Feldberg Capital’s perspective, Jon explained how TFT reports guide investor requirements, underwrite sustainability targets, insurance policies, and building performance improvements. The insights they contain help to plan the route to an ideal exit point for an owner.  

Feldberg’s goal is to improve assets to the point where its future sale is de-risked for a prospective purchaser, allowing them to command the best returns. With that goal in mind, TDD reports must get under the skin of an asset.  

But how much depth can one achieve in just a few days?  

Though TDD reports need better data, Neil Granger highlighted the tension between quality research and the time constraints of a transaction, asking: “What is an acceptable level of risk – in financial terms – of having the wrong data? Can you quantify that and factor it in to your transaction timelines?” Neil’s view on the dilemma? “I don’t think the benefits of speed outweigh the long-term risk of bad data”.  

Some insight can be achieved with modelling and gap analysis, but when benchmark data can be so wide of the mark for many buildings, it can be a risky approach.  

From a client’s perspective, Jon described more data limitations impacting acquisitions, particularly around energy use when most buildings do not have metered usage data. Leasing information also emerged as a significant challenge, as a building’s occupation impacts future refurbishment possibilities. Removal of information silos and better communication can lead to teams identifying opportunities such as being more creative with short term leases or decant, without the need for full vacant possession. These can only be determined by looking at accurate data ahead of time.  

Digital twins could address these challenges, our panel agreed. But can they do so today? That seems less likely, given the reality of implementing them across smaller, existing buildings. But as with all technology, such as digital data capture, this should improve over time.  

The panel found more optimism in the trend towards sustainability certification and Science-Based Targets – which Feldberg Capital already has in place. These standards require demonstrable performance data and will drive building owners and occupiers to provide better data as a matter of course.  

The final piece in the puzzle is to bring more specialists together as part of a sustainability-led approach to TDD. More technical advice on the available data, as well as to identify the ‘unknowns’ of an asset, are essential to realise the value of a building and set it up for a programme of sustainable improvements after purchase.  

Do you gather enough sustainability data as part of technical due diligence? Our team can help you understand more about the buildings you own and acquire. Get in touch here.

Read more about ‘Decarbonisation: the future for today’s buildings’

Session two was a case study discussion about Holbein Gardens, a landmark refurbishment for our client Grosvenor.  

Session three discussed how to create a culture of continual improvement and knowledge-sharing across project teams and organisations.