Barwell leads discussion and action on transforming industrial parks into sustainable places

Bee hives, heat pumps and showers to encourage cycling to work, are all part of Barwell Business Park’s ambitions to transform industrial and logistics parks into sustainable places.

Hosted by Barwell Business Park and Aviva Investors on 7 October, the Real Estate Live UK session ‘Making outer London’s industrial and logistics parks into sustainable places’ discussed collaboration, communities, practical measures and technology as key components of sustainability. Watch the recording here.

Ken Butcher, Asset Manager at Aviva Investors, highlighted the picnic tables, bug hotels and rewilding areas at Barwell along with the café as being “a hub where people can meet and talk, sit and discuss” to encourage staff to remain on-site. Adding green clauses to leases to encourage businesses to think about environmental and sustainability credentials when fitting out their building is also a consideration, he said.

Looking to the near-future, Ken added: “In the common areas, we’re looking to ensure existing lighting is LED-based and for all the power to come from sustainable sources. Some of the park’s refurbishment money could be used for putting sensors on lighting, installing air source heat pumps rather than gas boilers, investing in electric vehicle charging points, as well as showers for staff who cycle to the office. We’re also considering whether to get some bee hives so we can produce our own honey.”

He added sustainability was also about the local community and “in an area like Chessington you need to engage with the local community in that process too”. Barwell has hosted community initiatives including COVID-19 testing centres, parking for local colleges/schools having evening events and fun runs.

Cllr John Sweeney, Portfolio Holder for Business and Leisure at Kingston Council, welcomed Barwell’s community contribution: “What goes on at Barwell is good. They’ve organised themselves and are here to engage. A lot of our industrial parks are not organised to engage with our community.

“Barwell is getting involved with the community, they’ve participated in the Economic Recovery Task Force and come to panel meetings. By doing that they’re playing a role in the community and using the wealth and resource of businesses to make a difference. It’s a virtuous circle, not just about buildings but about the community.”

Jack Morris, Responsible Investment Associate, Real Assets at Aviva Investors, said the company was looking at how the Park “can drive its social credentials” as well as phasing in LED lighting and setting up service agreements for EV charging in areas were lots of people are driving to the site.

He added: “We’re getting more engagement with medium-sized to small-sized companies who are starting to understand what sustainability or environmental performance means for them and where they’re going, we’re starting to see some real movement.

“We need to collaborate on ESG, rather than doing it independently of one another.”

Claire Bradbury, Senior Consultant, Real Estate, Carbon Intelligence, agreed, saying: “More decision-making needs to be at lower levels with the funding to back it up. Residents will take responsibility for holding feet to the fire. This engagement needs to be meaningful, sustained and two-way rather than ‘transmit’ only and input-led.

“We need to focus on outcomes and use robust baselining to check what progress has or hasn’t been made. We need to make partnerships wherever possible and this is where local authorities are incredibly helpful as a repository of networks.”