Landsec goes modular in quest for net zero office block

Property developer Landsec is planning to build what it expects to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building by going modular.

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The Forge will be built from a kit of parts, or P-DfMA in the jargon
The Forge will be built from a kit of parts, or P-DfMA in the jargon

The Forge, previously known as 105 Sumner St, is a 139,000 sq ft office development in Southwark, London SE1, behind the Tate Modern.

Landsec is aiming for it 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 and associated energy performance targets. No building in the UK  has yet been verified in line with UKGBC’s framework that is net zero in both construction and operation.

Landsec said that all of its future developments will be built to, and operate in line with, UKGBC’s net zero carbon buildings framework.

The Forge will also be “the world’s first ever office building using a platform-led approach to design and construction”.

Landsec, along with design practice Bryden Wood, and design development and prototyping company Easi-Space, have secured a government grant, via Innovate UK, for their pioneering work.

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The platform system, known as P-DfMA (Platform for Design, Manufacture and Assembly), uses a kit of modular components that can be combined to produce customised structures. A trial led by Landsec, Bryden Wood and Easi-Space saw construction productivity improved by 55%, installation time reduced by 30% and cost savings are expected to reach 33% when compared to traditional construction techniques. The result is a structure that uses less material, creates less waste, and has an almost 20% reduction in carbon impact, it is claimed.

Landsec chief executive Mark Allan said: “Our target is to be a net zero carbon business by 2030. That means we have to start making changes to the way we do things now. We know that property companies have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency. We’re clear, therefore, that our sustainability strategy must be deeply embedded in our development programme and we will continue to be ambitious in our approach.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “40% of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributable to the built environment and so as a sector, we need to be pursuing aggressive rates of decarbonisation. The Forge is a ground-breaking development and testament to Landsec’s desire to tackle the climate crisis head on. Developers, construction firms, architects and occupiers must start working together at scale to deliver buildings like this that minimise whole life carbon and contribute to meaningful progress in the battle against climate change.”

Sam Stacey, challenge director for the Transforming Construction Challenge at UK Research & Innovation, said: “The work that Landsec has achieved in building what aims to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building is an excellent example of the type of projects the UKRI Transforming Construction challenge is looking to support. With its innovative platform technique and ‘kit of parts’ approach it embodies what the future of construction will be. Such approaches are essential to the transformation of the construction sector. It’s ambitious target to be a net zero carbon business by 2030 reflects the challenge’s aim for the construction sector, with buildings constructed with half the lifetime carbon emissions.”

This article first appeared in All construction news.