Interview with Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability, Landsec

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At the end of 2021 Landsec announced the creation of a new £135m net zero transition investment plan to help the Group achieve its 2030 science-based targets and drive its transition to net zero. At the same time UK’s first net zero carbon commercial development – The Forge by Landsec topped out, completed end of this year.

We talked to Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability, Landsec to learn more about their sustainability and Net Zero approach.

What role have you played in Landsec’s journey?

As Head of ESG and Sustainability at Landsec, my role is to ensure that we design, develop and manage our portfolio of assets sustainably, addressing the global challenges that matter most to our business and stakeholders ensuring that sustainability is embedded into everything we do.

Last year, my team and I were focused on refreshing our approach to sustainability, by launching our Build well, Live well, Act well framework, setting ambitious targets against our key ESG risks and opportunities, such as climate change, social cohesion and diversity and inclusion. We announced our sector-leading net zero transition investment plan detailing the actions we will take over the next decade to decarbonise our portfolio and our commitment to enhance social mobility within our business and the real estate industry as a whole.

Tell us about your successes as they happened

In 2016, we became the first commercial property company in the world to set a science-based carbon reduction target – something we’re really proud of. We’re now enhancing this target to align with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) Net-Zero Standard to ensure that our actions respond to the urgency and scale of the climate emergency. We’re making good progress and consistently rank as European industry leaders in sustainability benchmarks, including GRESB, CDP and DJSI.

One of our biggest milestones as a business has to be our development of The Forge. It’s a 139,000 sq. ft office development in Southwark, which aspires to be the first commercial building to be both constructed and operated in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) net zero carbon buildings framework. The Forge is a landmark project for us and our sector.

Another success was launching net zero transition investment plan in 2021, which sets out the actions we will take to transition our portfolio to net zero. The investment programme will be used across Landsec’s entire portfolio. It is expected that overall, the programme will see 24,000 tonnes of carbon emissions removed from Landsec’s operations – equivalent to over 35,000 return flights from London to New York.

What does it take to be one of the largest commercial property developer in the UK today?

For me, it’s having a clear sense of purpose and a defined strategy which everyone in the business can get behind. At Landsec, our purpose is clear; we create sustainable places, connect communities, and realise potential. This is our driving force, and it helps us to make sure we’re creating value, not only for our shareholders, but also for the communities in which we operate, and the wider UK economy.

Our Build well, Live well, Act well framework enables us to deliver our purpose whilst addressing our relevant ESG risks and opportunities. Being a purpose-led, sustainable business is the responsibility of all Landsec colleagues and our partners and suppliers who work on behalf.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business today and what are your priorities?

With nearly 40% of global carbon emissions created by our industry, it is our collective challenge and responsibility to lead the way to a lower carbon economy. Decarbonising existing buildings and making sure that any new spaces we create are sustainable are both critical in achieving this, and that’s where we’re focused at present. Alongside this, we’re focussed on ensuring that as we move to a low carbon society, we have the support of our communities and colleagues and ensure no one is left behind – creating opportunities in our local communities and places where every one feels like they belong.

What does Net Zero mean to you and what role does sustainability play in your business?

For us, net zero is about ensuring that the emissions that we produce from operating our buildings and developing new places are balanced out by the equivalent amount of emissions we permanently remove from the atmosphere.

Across our business, we’re enhancing our carbon reduction targets to align with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) Net-Zero Standard to ensure that our actions respond to the urgency and scale of the climate emergency. And for all new developments, we’re committed to designing and developing net zero buildings in construction and operation aligning with the emerging UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard.

Achieving these targets is the responsibility of all Landsec colleagues and our partners and suppliers who work on behalf and that’s why within our new sustainability strategy, “Build Well, Live Well, Act Well”, we’ve set a target to ensure that everyone at Landsec sets a personal objectives linked to our sustainability vision within their personal development plans. Additionally, we’ve linked elements of our ESG performance to remuneration at all levels of the business.

After COP26 there was a moment when it felt businesses pushed an invisible “pause button” on their Net Zero. What are the biggest Net Zero challenges in your industry today?

From the actions we are taking to transition to net zero, we anticipate some challenges namely:

  • Cost of implementation – funding sustainable improvements is a contentious issue of who pays and who benefits, and the split incentives remain a challenge. Investment is required and it is crucial that land owners and occupiers work together to apportion these costs appropriately. Additionally, the industry needs to better reflect the benefits of decarbonisation into the valuation of assets. 
  • Implementation challenges – the challenges associated with working in occupied buildings and collaborating with occupiers to improve the sustainability of existing buildings cannot be underestimated;
  • Resilient supply of low carbon goods and services – our net zero transition investment plan (NZTIP) and our commitment to developing net zero carbon buildings will see us procuring low carbon products such as air source heat pumps and low emission concrete. We need to be confident that there is supply chain capacity to meet our requirements and the increasing demand from the wider market;
  • Green skills – as we employ more low carbon solutions, we are mindful that the skills required to implement and maintain these products need to be fostered in the market. The market needs to be prepared for more energy assessors, more engineers who can maintain wind turbines, solar PV panels, more installers of low carbon heating solutions, etc;
  • Innovation – innovative new products and services need to come to the fore in order for us to transition to net zero – these products need investment, a supportive regulatory environment and increased demand from the market.

What are your immediate Net Zero priorities for next year?

Our immediate net zero priority is to implement our net zero transition plan, which includes reducing our operational carbon emissions and energy intensity and working to increase the capacity of our onsite renewable energy. We have a number of exciting projects planned to do so, including; replacing existing gas boilers with air source heat pumps, installation of solar PV across our retail sites and working in partnership with our office occupiers to reduce their energy consumption.

Alongside this, completing The Forge is a huge priority for us, as well as progressing further with our other net zero buildings – considering structural retention where possible, engaging with our supply chain earlier than ever before to promote wider utilisation of low carbon materials such as replacing cement in concrete with low carbon alternatives and using innovative methods of construction.

What are some of the benefits you have seen from Landsec’s Net Zero commitment and how is it appreciated by your customers?

At Landsec, our customers are at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to our net zero commitments.  For example, the demand for well-designed office space is on the rise, and sustainability plays a huge part in this. Customers want flexible, innovative spaces that will help them to develop their culture, foster collaboration and attract the best talent.

From my experience, I can see that businesses expect more from their workspaces and are increasingly thinking more about the role their office can play in helping them to meet their ESG targets. We have taken this on board in spaces like Lucent, where wellbeing, sustainability and amenities combine, and with our drive to constantly add value to settings, we believe that we’re well primed to work in partnership with businesses to meet these evolving needs.

How can we help accelerate Net Zero adoption among businesses?

Businesses need to come together to work collaboratively to address the climate crisis and accelerate our transition to Net Zero. We need to work across industries to share best practice, innovate and train the next generation of climate leaders. Therefore, we have created our own carbon manifesto that encompasses our net zero targets, and outlined key action points that the Government can do to support and accelerate our transition.

Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability, Landsec
Mark Allan, Chief Executive Officer, Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability and Alexia Laird, Senior Sustainability Manager – Development will be presenting Landsec’s Corporate Net Zero Journey on 19 January 2023 for 1 hour in an “Expert Audience with Partner” with slide presentation and extensive 1-2-1 Q&As with Mark and his team: 

11.45 – 12.45 Audience with Landsec


The Audience format will consist of intial 30 mins team slide presentation and latter 30 mins of 1-2-1 Q&As with Partner’s team.

The format will offer an opportunity to hear from and engage directly with company’s top management team on the detials of their corporate Net Zero journey and will offer a clearer understanding of best practices and latest thinking on co-ordinating on decarbonisation, mobilising the organisation for delivery, building innovative partnerships and financing models to fuel decarbonisation, leveraging green financing solutions, integrating carbon into business decisions and corporate governance, finding and trialling suitable decarbonisation technologies, creating actionable and cost effective decarbonisation plan, showing what the end result might look like and inspiring others with their Net Zero journey.

If you would like to meet with Mark Allan and Landsec Team please register below. If you know Landsec and their team you can get 50% off by quoting 03G-LNDS