News

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

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.

“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 .

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 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

World Green Building Week special: When value engineering costs the earth

In the run up to World Green Building Week, we’ve been thinking about its #ActOnClimate campaign. In particular, we’ve been thinking about how project managers and quantity surveyors can drive design teams to improve an area that is often missed out on in climate talks: value engineering.

Carbon reduction in buildings has come a long way but we are still behind the curve compared to other industries. Why? Put simply, the willingness to pay for it is still lacking. Quantity surveyors control the purse strings and understand how funds can be spent wisely, but can we factor more sustainable decisions in to the process?

This week, we are releasing an article written by Natalia Ford, Energy & Sustainability Consultant at TFT and Eva MacNamara, Associate at Expedition Engineering to highlight how the design team can do better for our future.


When value engineering costs the Earth

As part of multidisciplinary project teams, members collaborate to achieve a balance of several drivers whilst meeting the client’s brief.

Over the last year, over 1500 organisations comprising architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, and project managers have signed up to the ‘Declare’ movement[i], committing to undertake design and construction with significantly less carbon. This is a leap forward in terms of sustainable development intentions by a large portion of the built environment sector.

However, moving away from bolt on sustainability services towards integrated, holistic and sustainable system design requires a fundamental rethink of the design process. And yet one of the fundamental steps that the sector needs to take is to integrate three key gatekeepers of our build processes: project managers, quantity surveyors and the procurement chain.

“Value engineering is used to solve problems and identify and eliminate unwanted costs, whilst improving function and quality.”


Designing Buildings Wiki

Value engineering for good

In its best possible incarnation, value engineering can get the best out of a design. Some everyday examples of how value engineering can benefit the environment around us include:

  • Using a salvaged/reconditioned raised access floor system instead of installing a brand new one. 
  • Prolonging the life of well-maintained HVAC systems rather than automatically replacing them because the original systems have exceeded CIBSE life expectancy guidelines.
  • Using natural materials to replace more carbon intensive, mass produced materials such as PVC.
  • Designing out components – e.g. avoiding the use of mastic and sealants to waterproof joints.
  • Careful modelling of building performance in use to optimise plant size.

However, at its worst, value engineering could literally cost us the earth. The decisions designers and contractors make now must move us towards Net Zero and it is fundamentally important that those in control of budgets understand the impact of changes to an optimised low carbon design. A tight specification that integrates carbon is essential for good intentions not to be undermined by contractual ‘opportunities’.

Never has a good brief been more important

Clients need to lead in their requirements for moving towards Net Zero. Our respective Declare movements demand that we design and build in the right way. However, if the same goal isn’t shared by our clients, it is quite possible that whilst the value engineering process may satisfy increases in value for cost, programme and quality, the effect on climate and carbon isn’t quantified in the same way. 

So, how do we change our processes to achieve a sustainable built environment?

1. Baking and knitting skills – a Project Manager’s discipline

Firstly, project managers are responsible for a setting the tone and the ambition of the project, not to mention the considerable amount of “knitting” that has to happen between the different disciplines. Knowing that sustainability should be baked in from RIBA Stage 1, and not the last thing on the DTM agenda, or bringing in sustainability consultants purely for a planning submission, changes how sustainability is managed and considered throughout the design phase. Advocating to clients at RIBA Stage 0 for a sustainability process to be included can drastically change the project outcomes and value (Yes, even at RIBA Stage 0 there are issues that sustainability professionals can shed light on such as future proofing and circular economy!)

2. Carbon – a Quantity Surveyor’s dream

Secondly, the best Quantity Surveyors (QS) understand the balance of drivers that a design team works with and how best value is attained. Many of these drivers are qualitative and subjective. Carbon, on the other hand, is mostly quantitative* and is highly suited to being part of the QS domain. They measure what they can measure very well, and not what they can’t. Carbon needs to be another column on the QS cost plan.

*Using PAS 2080, EN 15978, the RICS Methodology and some LCA software

3. Procurement – a direct cost link we can’t ignore

Procurement is where the rubber meets the road in terms of carbon. Whether the years of low carbon design work and planning is seen through to the end of construction will be determined by how closely the procurement chain, which can be highly fragmented, follows the product and performance specification.

Designers and contractors need to bring the PM and QS communities and the procurement chain with us on the multiple sustainability narratives we are working through as a sector including low carbon, whole life carbon and cost, and circular economy. Sustainability professionals understand how a value engineering tweak can significantly impact on these sustainability outcomes. QS professionals are well placed to understand how the desirable sustainability outcomes can impact on the other traditional client drivers. Striking that balance and finding our new normal is difficult but currently, the balance is still weighted towards cost and business directives.


Including these disciplines to achieve the sustainability objectives of a project will contribute to making sustainability a front runner in the value engineering balancing act.

Let’s value engineer the Earth in.

[i] Construction Declares www.constructiondeclares.com covering Architects, Building Services, Civil Engineers, Contractors, Landscape Architects, Project Managers and Structural Engineers Declare pages.

TFT M&E Associate completes charity fundraiser Tour de Cornwall with ex-footballers

Top left – Mark at Land’s End on Day 1 of the ‘Tour’

Mark Fenwick, one of TFT’s keen cyclists, has just completed the Tour de Cornwall: 190 miles and 16,000 ft of climbing over three days across Cornwall to raise money for umbrella charity 11 Foundation. The charity ‘curate unique collaborations to provide support and funding to established charities to help enable health related initiatives, community led environment schemes and the provision of opportunities for disadvantaged and vulnerable people’ (www.11foundation.co.uk).

Former Chelsea and England footballer Joe Cole, who set up 11 Foundation with his wife Carly, joined the group of property professionals for the ride along with former teammates Wayne Bridge and Steve Sidwell. To keep in line with COVID-19 measures, riders had their temperatures checked before they set off each day and anyone with symptoms was pulled out of the event.

Upon completion, Mark said:

It was always going to be a challenge, however the certainly training paid off! We had fantastic weather for three days and with every climb our thoughts inevitably turned to the amazing cause we were raising money for. The rides were gruelling – even for the seasoned rider – but the entire group proudly completed the tour.

Donations from friends, family, TFT colleagues and industry peers have sponsored Mark over £2k, beating his £1750 target to help the team raise close to £50k for the charity.

This ride couldn’t have been possible without everyone’s incredibly generous donations and the support of my sponsors. We have just reached the £50,000 mark which is an amazing achievement by all.

A massive thank you to all of my colleagues at TFT for sponsoring me for this challenge!

If you’d like to show support and donate to the cause, please click here.

Sustainable buildings: climate adaptation and whole life costing

As investors and occupiers place sustainability outcomes higher on their strategic priorities, TFT advice is helping project teams align their sustainable and commercial agendas. Here, we talk about climate change adaptation and whole life costing – two topics which directly marry up commercial and the sustainable concerns.

There are many opportunities to contribute to more sustainable outcomes across the building life-cycle, and to prove the commercial benefits of doing so. TFT Sustainability Associate, Oliver Morris, spoke at the RICS conference on this topic, drawing on TFT’s experience in project teams and as client advisers for building investors and occupiers alike.

Looking for an introduction to aligning commercial and sustainable outcomes? This article explains the importance of long-term thinking and TFT’s approach to design for performance, here.

In this article, we’ll discuss two issues which affect the whole project team and directly impact building longevity and value.

Climate change adaptation

One of the most acute risks to sustainable building performance for investors and building owners is the impact of extreme weather patterns.

The obvious impacts can include physical damage from wind, rain and flooding. But more extreme seasonal temperatures could negatively impact thermal comfort, or increase HVAC use to keep occupants comfortable through the year, which means more frequent plant maintenance or replacement.

Mitigating these risks means designing and building with future weather and climate projections in mind. The most adaptable and durable buildings will maintain their physical integrity and the comfort and wellbeing of its users – adding up to a better-performing asset in the long term.

Whole life cost analysis

In following a strategy for in-use performance, and factoring in the risks of climate change on a building’s future, whole-life costing analysis can help identify the value of building materials in terms of their contribution to a more useful lifespan.

Whole Life Costing allows us to understand the full picture of a building’s requirements across its lifecycle. It provides a commercial basis for improving specification and justifying sustainable materials or systems which improve the financial outlook across a building’s life.

By providing more transparency of potential costs through a building’s life cycle can give investors, development and asset managers more confidence in moving towards business ‘as unusual’ and realising the economic benefits of embedding sustainability as a core design principle. With the increasing Net Zero Carbon agenda within the industry undertaking Whole Life Costing with Whole Life Carbon (Confusingly the same acronym) assessments can highlight the relationship between reducing a building’s operational and embodied carbon emissions with operational costs.

These areas impact all aspects of the building lifecycle, and we at TFT have the scope to identify the opportunities and drive collective responsibility for acting on them. Challenging project teams and other stakeholders to move away from business as usual will be crucial to help us all advance better buildings for the future – and not a moment too soon.

Would you like more information on any of the subjects discussed in this article? Contact Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability.

Sustainable buildings: long-term thinking and design for performance

Sustainable buildings are no longer a specialist’s responsibility. Every stakeholder in the building design, construction, management and maintenance processes can contribute to more sustainable outcomes, so long as they work towards a common goal. They key to aligning these different roles is in matching up sustainable best practice with a better commercial outlook for the project.

TFT Sustainability Associate, Oliver Morris, recently joined a RICS conference panel to discuss how this can be achieved, drawing on our experience as part of project teams and client advisers for building investors and occupiers alike.

So how can project teams and clients contribute to more sustainable buildings and the commercial outlook for their next project?

Sustainable buildings are more valuable in the long-term

Developers and investment funds are increasingly following property strategies which prioritise long-term sustainability and occupant well-being. Their confidence is bolstered by an industry which is proving its experience in delivering these outcomes but also providing greater certainty of the costs involved. The good news is that project teams engage more fully with the proper application of sustainable design and construction principles from the outset.

However, major schemes tend to embrace this process more fully than smaller or less high-profile buildings. Budget limitations can mean that projects aim to simply meet regulations, not exceed them. The problem is that regulations are evolving continually: while buildings may still be ‘compliant’ in the future, in a market of newer and higher performing buildings those assest are at risk of becoming under-valued or stranded.

Our solution is to advocate for a beyond-compliance approach at an early stage to avoid the risk of stranded assets down the line.

Would you like more information on any of the subjects discussed in this article? Contact Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability.

Designing for performance beyond compliance

TFT is a delivery partner for the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) Design for Performance programme. The BBP aims to tackle the performance gap: the difference between how buildings are designed to perform, and how they function after the project is finished and the occupants move in.

Projects which rely on design intent alone to measure building performance, miss out on the most important indicator of success: the experience of the buildings’ users over time.

Designing for performance means gathering data on how the finished building is used by its occupants, and how well its component parts meet their needs. Operational targets can refer to aspects like energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction levels, broken down to whichever metrics are most important to the key stakeholders.

Choosing the right indicators and monitoring their performance is the best way to ensure that an asset is delivering value for its occupants, and therefore sustainable returns for its owners.

If you’d like to know about evaluating the impact of sustainable building decisions, or about climate change adaptation, our follow-up article on this topic is here.

Would you like more information on any of the subjects discussed in this article? Contact Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability.