Bankside Yards, the UK’s first major regeneration project with zero carbon emissions in operation – how local solutions can help fight a global problem

Felicity Masefield, Development Executive at Native Land explains why Native Land wanted to set a new standard in sustainability for major mix-use developments and how they are achieving this.

The real estate sector is one of the most carbon intensive in the world. It is responsible for approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The World Bank has previously estimated the real estate sector must reduce CO2 emissions by 36% by 2030. Everyone from investors to developers, architects to engineers must re-think how we shape the built environment to make meaningful changes that support the collective effort to decarbonise. 

Earlier this year, Native Land shared its sustainability strategy, which will make Bankside Yards the UK’s first major mixed-use development to be fossil fuel free. The entire 1.4m sq ft central London development will be net zero carbon in operation.

This will be achieved this by using energy-efficient technology on an unprecedented scale. Our strategy is part of an integrated, site-wide, multi-building strategy for carbon reduction and biodiversity, and will shape all our future developments.

Bankside Yards marks an important step as it will set a new benchmark for sustainability in large, mixed-use regeneration schemes. The entire 5.5-acre site will be served by a low-temperature, ‘5th Generation’ energy sharing network on a scale not yet seen in the UK, balancing thermal energy across all of its 8 new buildings and 14 restored railway arches. Each building will ‘extract’ or ‘reject’ energy into a single thermal network serving the entire development, significantly reducing operational energy consumption.

The use of all-electric energy through heat pumps, optimised facades and high efficiency building services systems, combined with Native Land’s commitment to a green energy purchasing agreement, will achieve net zero carbon in operation. The carbon reduction achieved is 40,000 tonnes over 30 years, the equivalent of 20,000 trips from London to New York on a Boeing 747.

We would not have achieved any of this without replacing what originally occupied the site. The former buildings, Sampson House and Ludgate House, were constructed when thermal performance was well below today’s standards. They also acted as a barrier to an important river frontage and provided very little biodiversity. 

However, refurbishment and re-use of real assets will also play a key role in supporting net zero carbon for the long-term. 

Another Native Land project in partnership with Ashby Capital is a 76,000-sq-ft office building on Judd St in the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter. The building offers a rare opportunity for the creative re-use of a well-located asset in a thriving area, through substantial refurbishment. This project will look to keep 75% of the existing structure, retaining 2,500 tonnes of embodied carbon which is the equivalent to 103,896 sq m of native forest. 

The coming years will be vital if the real estate sector is to make meaningful changes to combat the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. Those investing in the built environment hold real influence in the transition to a low-carbon future. Our sector therefore needs to play a critical role in hitting environmental targets to secure a sustainable future.