Glasgow’s going green: the property firm futureproofing the city’s historic buildings

A Glasgow focussed property business providing serviced, semi-serviced and traditional office space is behind the green transformation of some of the city’s best-known and most historic buildings, with support from Bank of Scotland.

Landlord Dunaskin Properties and associated companies, along with asset management company Stelmain have a one million square foot portfolio of retail and office space, largely in listed landmark buildings.

Together they have embarked on a long-term strategy to make the portfolio more energy efficient, including installing technologies like LED lighting and heat pumps.

The business is helping to encourage healthier lifestyles and employee wellbeing, installing cycling facilities in four of its buildings, including lockers, showers, changing rooms and storage for up to 60 bikes.

A new roof terrace has also been created at Centrum Offices in Queen Street, with plans for at least two more to come. It’s all designed to reflect the growing focus on sustainability in the wider business environment. But managing director Harvey Freeman said the nature of the properties, which are fully occupied by business tenants and protected by their listed status, had presented extra challenges.

 

“While they [the business tenants] are very supportive of sustainability, their agenda is also to retain the historic fabric of buildings. Striking the right balance between the two can be complicated.”

Harvey Freeman – managing director.

He said: “We recently won planning permission to replace the 50-year-old, draughty and noisy single-glazed windows on a listed building, but this came after 20 years of negotiations with planners. Harvey says that, while many smaller tenants may not currently be prioritising sustainability, it’s only a matter of time before they do.

He added: “We’re committed to a long-term programme of incremental improvements. At the moment it’s mostly the large corporates that are driving the green agenda in the UK.

“While most of our tenants are mid-sized enterprises, we believe that the focus on sustainability will undoubtedly trickle down to smaller firms too. As tenants’ priorities change, we want to be ahead of the game. We’re only five years into a much longer journey.”

In 2020, Dunaskin secured a £30m funding package from Bank of Scotland’s Green Lending Initiative, which Harvey says has helped accelerate the programme. Stelmain has used the Bank of Scotland’s Green Buildings Tool to benchmark the emissions generated by all its office buildings. This will enable it to optimise energy efficiency investments and measure its success in the future. Bank of Scotland has also provided practical advice to help the business achieve its aims, including using Memorandums of Understanding with tenants to help reduce energy use.

Darren Flynn at Bank of Scotland said: “The green economy represents a significant opportunity for Scotland and its fantastic to see our historic buildings being futureproofed, to help Scottish businesses minimise their environmental impact.

 

“With the upcoming COP26 conference on its way to the city, Glasgow has a real opportunity to demonstrate how sustainability can help drive prosperity going forward. “Bank of Scotland has the resources and expertise to help businesses as they transition to low-carbon, sustainable business models.”

Darren Flynn – Regional Head for Scotland, Bank of Scotland.

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