Commuting, CO2 and the location of offices
Wyatt, P. (2009) Commuting, CO2 and the location of offices. Working Papers in Real Estate & Planning. 06/09. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp49.
This paper investigates the extent to which office activity contributes to travel-related CO2 emission. Using ‘end-user’ figures, travel accounts for 32% of UK CO2 emission (Commission for Integrated Transport, 2007) and commuting and business travel accounts for a fifth of transport-related CO2 emissions, equating to 6.4% of total UK emissions (Building Research Establishment, 2000). Figures from the Department for Transport (2006) report that 70% of commuting trips were made by car, accounting for 73% of all commuting miles travelled. In assessing the environmental performance of an office building, the paper questions whether commuting and business travel-related CO2 emission is being properly assessed. For example, are office buildings in locations that are easily accessible by public transport being sufficiently rewarded? The de facto method for assessing the environmental performance of office buildings in the UK is the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). Using data for Bristol, this paper examines firstly whether BREEAM places sufficient weight on travel-related CO2 emission in comparison with building operation-related CO2 emission, and secondly whether the methodology for assigning credits for travel-related CO2 emission efficiency is capable of discerning intra-urban differences in location such as city centre and out-of-town. The results show that, despite CO2 emission per worker from building operation and travel being comparable, there is a substantial difference in the credit-weighting allocated to each. Under the current version of BREEAM for offices, only a maximum of 4% of the available credits can be awarded for ensuring the office location is environmentally sustainable. The results also show that all locations within the established city centre of Bristol will receive maximum BREEAM credits. Given the parameters of the test there is little to distinguish one city centre location from another and out of town only one office location receives any credits. It would appear from these results that the assessment method is not able to discern subtle differences in the sustainability of office locations
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