News

Introducing: Redefining Building Performance

In our inaugural Redefining Building Performance report we explore the drivers of value and resilience for commercial property today, and in the near future. Our findings come from our hands-on experience across the development and property lifecycle, and from key decision-makers among property investors (owner, occupier and developer organisations) who outline the challenges and priorities facing them.

Buildings are at risk. They are built to last, and their reinvention comes at great costs. Still, the world changes constantly around them. In 2020 we began researching the long-term trends arising from our work, so we could help our clients address them today. Then Covid-19 happened, and many of those trends accelerated and became more focussed. On some fronts, the horizon for change jumped even closer.

Redefining Building Performance is about looking at the near future through the lens of value and resilience, establishing what will drive the commercial performance of buildings in the years to come. Our findings and suggestions focus on three key metrics for performance: health and wellbeing, sustainability and flexibility of buildings. These objectives are evident in today’s commercial property market and are influencing the decisions of our clients. However, there is a gap between ambition and action. When it comes to achieving higher standards against those goals, better measurement and collaboration serve as key facilitators for turning good strategy into tangible outcomes.

Within our report we find that each of these themes are widely recognised, but not consistently understood. Despite a sense of general familiarity, these ‘action gaps’ in our industry threaten long-term building value and resilience.

As we shine our spotlight on these issues, we consider the relationship between the investor, developer and occupier. One clear trend is that occupiers tend to lead the way, demanding higher standards of delivery from their buildings because their staff, customers or other building users demand the same of them. However, investors and developers aren’t entirely behind the curve and without their innovation, occupiers may not know how and where to push the boundaries. Within our report, you’ll see examples of leading investors and developers implementing features of these themes on their projects or within their organisations.

We work with those at the cutting edge and those which are catching up, and we are certain that our greatest industry challenges demand constant progression from both ends of the spectrum. By the nature of a changing world, there is no final or perfect outcome (or at least, not for long).

As a consultancy with roles across the property lifecycle from development to management, occupation, maintenance and through transactions, we are well-placed to see how those standards are met, and to advocate and implement more ambitious action through our services. That could include challenging developers to create more adaptable spaces, helping building owners structure their leases to reduce waste, or putting wellbeing and sustainability analysis at the heart of building transactions – and much more besides.

Discussion and collaboration is integral to our success, and the success of our clients too. I hope that as you explore the themes and findings we raise here, you’ll be in touch with any questions about how we can apply this thinking to your next project.

New retail dilapidations projects for Timpson and Watches of Switzerland

Our retail dilapidations teams were recently instructed to support Timpson and subsequently Watches of Switzerland by referral, for dilapidations advice on their stores.

In the changing retail landscape, the best dilapidations advice can help retail occupiers of all kinds handle the leasing challenges they face. We also help retail landlords by preserving the value of their asset and achieving compensation for any losses incurred by a tenant.

Click here to find out more about our dilapidations services and how they can help you.

Timpson and Watches of Switzerland have both instructed TFT dilapidations specialists
Timpson and Watches of Switzerland have both instructed TFT dilapidations specialists

TFT joins UKGBC Commercial Retrofit Task Group

With COP26 set for November 2021, a focal point for the conference will be the environmental impact of the built environment on our Paris Agreement targets for limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The biggest question currently facing our industry is how do we reduce the built environment’s contribution of 39% of annual carbon emissions, and 36% of global energy consumption? The World Green Building Council (GBC) is tasking ten European GBCs, including the UKGBC, to answer this question with national roadmaps for decarbonising their respective built environment industries.

Ollie Morris, Senior Associate, Sustainability, has been selected to join this effort, focussing on decarbonising commercial real estate retrofit projects. Ollie will work with a group of other industry leaders to chart a course to drive down the carbon impacts of the sector.

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The UKGBC Roadmap will consist of two key components:

  • Carbon trajectory: A 1.5° aligned science-based trajectory for reducing built environment emissions that includes targets for relevant sub-sectors.
  • Report: A comprehensive report setting out the actions, policies and processes needed to manage the net zero transition in the built environment and achieve the trajectory targets, designed to complement the sector-specific roadmaps already in progress and ensure consistency between them.

What is the scope of the Commercial Retrofit Task Group?

The group’s task is to specify the decarbonisation implications of retrofit projects in commercial property and developing a timeline of solutions to bring them in to reality. This trajectory of carbon reduction targets and actions will contribute to understanding all the actions required across the lifecycle of the built environment in the UK. Furthermore, it will secure the support of relevant industry actors in delivering decarbonisation.

Specifically, the Commercial Retrofit task group will focus on three key areas of buildings’ carbon impacts:

  • Embodied carbon: reducing carbon emissions as a result of building construction, refurbishment and maintenance works
  • Operational carbon: reducing carbon emitted to heat, cool and ventilate buildings, as well as from lighting and hot water facilities
  • In-use carbon: reducing all emissions from services used in the course of a building’s daily operation, such as: lifts, IT systems, small power and plug loads

What comes next?

Ollie, along with the wider group will work on reviewing and updating the 2013 Low Carbon Route-Map produced by the GCB, considering the above factors against a 1.5 degree scenario.

Their recommendations will be formalised into a full report, which UKGBC will issue to the industry in a consultation this June/July, to capture a wider set of professional perspectives before presenting the findings at COP26 in Glasgow.

Find out more about sustainability at TFT.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating: what do you need to know?

The new WELL Health-Safety Rating helps create healthier and safer buildings for all users. In this post, we explain how owners and occupiers of all building types can use it today.

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The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) has published its new WELL Health-Safety Rating. This certification is recommended by TFT as a tool to prepare workplaces and other facilities for use in a post-COVID-19 environment thanks to its specific and practical guidance, which can help build trust among building users and visitors as we transition to increased building usage and seek to mitigate future risks.

TFT is embedding these principals, published by the IWBI, for our offices and in best practice guides for our clients. Our teams are here to help occupier organisations and building owners understand the certification and provide a higher standard of well-being by applying it.

What is the WELL Health-Safety Rating?

The WELL Health Safety Rating

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence based and third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types. The rating focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, occupant engagement and emergency plans across six themes, including:

  • Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air and Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
  • Innovation

The full set of requirements are now available on wellcertified.com.

Get in touch with our team to find out how those apply to your organisation or building.

Does the WELL Health-Safety Rating deal with COVID-19 risks?

The IWBI is clear that the latest certification doesn’t make an organisation or building COVID-proof. However, it was developed in response to the pandemic and details interventions at a building and organisation scale which help reduce the risk of infectious diseases transmission. Furthermore, the strategies it contains apply to numerous health and safety issues relevant today and in the future.

What types of building can attain the WELL Health-Safety Rating?

The rating applies to any type of building, as well as any type of single-use or single-owner space within a building. Multi-use spaces such as stadiums, airports and shopping malls can also be certified by the same themes, but the application would take a different form due to differing requirements for the various uses of the space.

WELL Health-Safety rating applies to all building types, including office, restaurant, hospitality, education, retail and industrial sectors

Will it help me achieve a full WELL certification for my building?

Yes! While the Health-Safety Rating is a certification in its own right, and achieving it is a significant step for an organisation’s well-being journey, it will also support an application to become fully WELL-certified.

Given that it deals with a very immediate concern for employees and other building users, embarking on this process is timely and a good future-proofing step for your building or organisation.

Do you have other questions about the latest rating from WELL? Get in touch to learn how it could help you progress your organisation’s well-being journey.

NABERS UK: a step closer to net zero carbon

TFT is proud to announce our partnership with NABERS UK, becoming a Design for Performance (DfP) Delivery Partner as part of our wider effort to help clients achieve net zero carbon.

NABERS UK BBP - net zero carbon

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Following in the footsteps of the successful Australian initiative, NABERS UK Scheme (for Offices) has now been launched in the UK through the collaboration of Better Buildings Partnerships (BBP), NABERS and the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Developed in collaboration with a wide range of industry stakeholders, the scheme will enable greater transparency concerning the performance in use of UK Offices. It will play a vital role in bridging the performance gap between the design and in-use performance of UK Offices. BBP have spearheaded this launch in hope to transform the market ahead of Government consultations on energy performance disclosure within the commercial industry.

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO at Better Buildings Partnership said:

The launch of NABERS UK marks a significant milestone for this project, but more importantly a huge leap forward for the industry in measuring and verifying the actual energy performance of UK offices. This has been a truly collaborative effort from across the industry over many years. I am absolutely delighted that we now have a scheme in the UK that will transform the market for better, more energy efficient offices.

Our goal at TFT is to optimise energy intensity in the course of building use. We do that by measuring and improving actual building performance as opposed to predicted building performance. This will in turn help developers overcome the performance gap between design and operation. In becoming a DfP Delivery Partner, TFT will integrate DfP into the delivery of building services and champion the adoption of DfP to our clients.

To find out more about the TFT approach, click here.

TFT Edinburgh at 5: revitalising Scotland’s capital city

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

First up is Neil Wotherspoon, Partner and head of Edinburgh, to talk to us about the St James Quarter development we’re monitoring for Nuveen. It’s making an impact already and is set to be a breath of fresh air for Scotland’s capital.

St James Quarter development

“Looking back on the journey of our Edinburgh office is deeply personal to me. Since I opened the office in 2015, our team, our work and our client list has grown and diversified a great deal. We’ve gone from strength to strength to offer our specialist services to incredible clients in Scotland and across the rest of the UK and Europe.

One project in particular has come to define my relationship with the city itself, personally and professionally: the St James Quarter development which I am monitoring on behalf of our clients Nuveen and APG. In fact, we were expecting two great parties as a St James Quarter milestone and our office birthday coincided in October. But for now at least we’ll make do with a visit to the Zoom Pub!

I moved to Edinburgh in 1998, so I know the St James Quarter site has always had a challenging place in the city. I don’t recall the old office space ever being occupied and the shopping centre was a short-cut rather than a destination. Yet, the site took up a large part of the east of Edinburgh. St James Quarter will completely change that. I’m not sure whether many residents appreciate the full scale of the new development, so I hope they will be surprised by all it contains, and how it will open up that part of the city. The incredible views will also show the city in a new way, and not just for the residential apartments and W Edinburgh guests. Towards Leith Street at level 5 there will be a publicly available courtyard with great views over Carlton Hill.

I think the structure itself it also going to help people move around the city differently. For instance, oddly Edinburgh has a limited selection of covered public areas to seek refuge from the Scottish weather. But the St James Quarter galleria roof will provide that sheltered street feel and build a great atmosphere too. You may have already seen some of the unique design features, but I think the lighting design is going to be really impressive in the galleria and on the W Hotel. Without getting in to the specification, I can say that these interactive, responsive and unique designs will be a first for visitors, unlike anything else in Scotland.

I can’t say that this year is everything I wanted for our fifth birthday celebrations. But even in these tough times I believe there’s an awful lot to be positive about. When SJQ opens in Spring 2021 it will begin a major positive change for the city itself, boosting not only the local economy but also the lives of residents and visitors alike.”

Read more about the transformation going on at Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, here.

TFT Edinburgh at 5: scaling the Cairngorms and court

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

Jon Rowling, Technical Partner in our Edinburgh office, tells us about surveying in the Cairngorms and resolving legal disputes.

This was most definitely the highest I have been when carrying out inspections, which weren’t helped by the deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.  I nearly lost the tips of my fingers because, as an aspiring urbane surveyor, I slightly forgot that gloves would be important.  Certainly the best views though above the clouds, and feeling of being on top of the world.  As ever inspecting different types of buildings, one is always drawn also to understand what goes on there and how it all operates.  In this case there was a railway, a mountain rescue post, conservation, skiing, catering and retail all to be considered.  This is one inspection that I won’t forget.

Acting as a ‘court reporter’ for the Outer House, considering a dilapidations dispute in Glasgow:

A court reporter is appointed by the court to provide technical expertise when the case before the court is fundamentally a question of expert opinion.  As always with these disputes, significant time has passed since the evidence on site was available to review so it becomes a question of reviewing the (not insignificant) bundles of documents, and then expressing a reasoned opinion as to the various liabilities.  As often occurs though, much of the difference between the parties is a matter of legal interpretation and so the reporter is allowed to question to court on the correct legal approach.  In this case, the main issue was one of ‘supersession’.  I’m sure all dilapidations surveyors would like clarity from a court as to the correct way to deal with supersession.  Fingers crossed we find out.

I’ve also acted as arbitrator in dilapidations disputes.  The arbitrator receives evidence from the parties, considers it and publishes a binding ‘Award’ that sets out the resolution of the dispute.  Arbitration of dilapidations disputes is a growing area in Scotland and is something TFT is proud to contribute to.  Indeed, we have published a set of Dilapidations Arbitration Rules for Scotland, which we hope will aid parties who are considering this form of ADR.

Find out more about Alternative Dispute Resolution and how our teams can help you use it to your advantage.

TFT Edinburgh at 5: from Europe to the Royal Mile

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

Alasdair Balfour, Associate in our Edinburgh office, talks to us about travel on the job and new developments close to home.

“I’ve enjoyed building close and longstanding relationships with our fantastic clients, and our team across the company. From our Edinburgh base we’ve delivered instructions in the city, across Scotland and further afield too, including England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and mainland Europe.

After all, the buildings don’t come to us!

My highlights are always exploring new locations. I relish the challenges that come with working in different places, with new projects in new contexts. Some personal favourites include inspection of just under 5m sqft of Grade A office accommodation across Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt. Those were to produce reinstatement cost assessments (RCAs) for a European portfolio. I also completed a range of separate Technical Due Diligence instructions across France and Spain, including a 800,000sqft industrial unit near Madrid.

Closer to home, it’s always exciting to see your city change and grow. In particular, I’m proud be part of the evolution of Edinburgh as its sites and buildings evolve to the commercial opportunities of our times. Major development sites aren’t common in the city centre right now. But I was privileged to work on the multi-use redevelopment of New Waverley.

I was a Fund Monitor for the new purchaser of the 190,000sqft office building, Queen Elizabeth House. I was overseeing the development obligations associated with the purchase, building contract and tenancy. It’s an impressive facility, right in the heart of the city with striking views east and west down the Waverley valley as far as Berwick Law, near North Berwick in East Lothian. As with many things, occupancy has been delayed by COVID-19 but it’s only a matter of time before the area is fully brought to life by its inhabitants.”

New Waverley is part of our nation-wide instruction from Legal & General to monitor the development of Government hubs in major cities across the UK. Find out more about some of the other schemes in that project, in Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow .

New Waverley

Vacant Possession just got more complicated for tenants

TFT dilapidations specialist Jon Rowling explains a new concern for commercial property tenants trying to achieve ‘vacant possession’ for a lease break. They may have been careful not to leave too much behind, but now they also need to be careful not to take too much away.

Tenants wanting to exercise a lease break option always have to be cautious, because the conditions are interpreted strictly and precisely by the courts. With one false move, the lease term continues.

Having to provide vacant possession (VP) is still a common hurdle. Whilst there is case law supporting its definition, uncertainty remains as to what tenants need to do to achieve it. 

Since Riverside Park Ltd v NHS Property Services Limited [2016] EWHC 1313 (Ch), there has been some uncertainty as to whether tenants only need to remove chattels, or whether fixtures also need to be removed. An additional complication arises if the break clause condition calls for the tenant to be “not in occupation”, because it’s not always clear what that means. 

Surveyors have been hoping for some new case law to help us guide our clients. Unfortunately, the recently reported case of Capitol Park Leeds plc v Global Radio Services Ltd [2020] EWHC 2750 (Ch) does not help!

Here’s why:

In this case the tenant had to provide vacant possession of the “Premises” (as defined). The court held that the tenant failed to do so, and therefore the break failed. It failed because the tenant failed to yield up the Premises. In fact the question of VP doesn’t seem to have been necessary to consider because the decision seems to have made based on the definition of the Premises.

The tenant knew they needed to remove their own fit out and did so.  However, they also removed (or had previously removed) significant elements of the landlord’s building including air conditioning, ceilings, fire barriers, radiators, lighting, floor boxes, small power etc.

The definition of the “Premises” included:

“… all fixtures and fittings at the Premises whenever fixed, except those which are generally regarded as tenant’s or trade fixtures and fittings…”

Essentially, because the tenant had removed landlord’s fixtures, it had not yielded-up the Premises. Too much of the Premises was missing.

Tenants who have to achieve VP have always been cautious about leaving too much behind, but now they also need to be cautious about taking too much away. Potentially, the fact that the items removed by the tenant in this case were so substantial might mean that other tenants who remove just a little bit too much could draw a distinction between their case and Capitol Park v Global Radio?

The case is also interesting, particularly for surveyors, because it raises further commonly encountered issues:

  1. That ‘agreements’ with your opposite number should be recorded in writing, to avoid the uncertainty and expenses of an estoppel argument
  2. That some surveyor-to-surveyor correspondence, and surveyor-to-client correspondence can be seen by the court
  3. That tenants preparing for a conditional break, where building works are required to be completed, should press ahead with that work until such time as a financial agreement and surrender is agreed between the parties. Don’t stop work in anticipation of a settlement being reached
  4. Riverside v NHS was mentioned in the judgement, but we still don’t know whether tenant’s fixtures also need to be removed to achieve VP
  5. The case didn’t consider what the phrase “not in occupation” means.

Capitol Park Leeds plc v Global Radio Service Ltd considered whether the removal of landlord’s fixtures was enough to frustrate a VP condition to a break, or whether the removal of the landlord’s fixtures should be considered as part of a dilapidations claim, after the successful exercise of the break. The judge preferred the former option, but leave to appeal has been granted.

Are you a landlord or a tenant of commercial property with queries about a lease, dilapidations or dispute resolution?

Contact Jon Rowling to discuss your case and the best way forwards.

Commercial property
Commercial property tenants remain uncertain about ‘vacant possession’ definitions after a recent case between Capitol Park Leeds plc v Global Radio Services Ltd

TFT sponsors the EG Awards’ Rising Stars

Real estate is resilient, and its future success is in the hands of brilliant people who are only just beginning their journey. We recognise and support those people by sponsoring the annual EG Awards, and in particular the Rising Star category.

This year everybody has had to weather new challenges. So it’s especially important to come together and share in our achievements and our ambitions this year. Especially if it gives us an excuse to put on our glad rags and raise a glass in socially-distanced celebration!

Join us at the new virtual edition of the EG Awards, taking place this month, October 29. You can find out all the information you need to register here.

See you there!

The EG Awards has long set a benchmark for our industry’s collective accomplishments and ambitions. This year we’ve all called on our creativity and some new tools to keep the show on the road, so it’s fitting that this special edition of the Awards should do the very same. I look forward to celebrating the innovations and the achievements which will pave the way for our industry’s recovery and prosperity in the future.  

Alistair Allison, Managing Partner TFT
EG Awards Rising Star
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