Cambridge tops BNP Paribas Real Estate’s location analysis model as most desirable green city to live and work in

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BNP Paribas Real Estate has identified a UK wide ‘top 10 list’ of highly desirable green places to live and work outside of the capital. The university city of Cambridge tops the list followed by Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Exeter, Bristol, Dundee, Reading, Leeds, Edinburgh and finally Newcastle completing the top 10.  

The ranking has been generated through BNP Paribas Real Estate’s unique location analysis model, Next X, which draws on a series of environmental data to determine how well these locations perform against these criteria.  

Next X looked at aspects such as supply of environmentally friendly office space, (BREEAM rated), in these locations as well as ultra-low emissions vehicle (ULEV) usage and access to electric vehicle charging stations. It also reviewed supply of cycle parking spaces at rail stations and air quality at these places across the UK. 

Cambridge tops the list thanks to factors including boasting the highest level of bicycle parking available (over 220 spaces per 10,000 people) and a three-fold increase in use of ULEVs in the past four years. When it comes to four-wheeled transport, Milton Keynes services electric car users well, with over 34 EV charging points per 100,000 people (against the top twenty average of 10.6), while Exeter has seen the highest growth in the use of ULEVs in the past four years at over 800 per cent. Outside London, the number of BREEAM-rated office buildings is highest in Manchester, followed by Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham. 

Growing evidence, in the UK and further afield, suggests that sustainable offices are retaining both higher rental and investment values. Locations with strong supply of certified green offices are therefore more likely to attract both businesses, talent and investment. 

Over 50 per cent of European respondents in RICS Q3 2020: Global Commercial Property Monitor survey believed that occupier demand for buildings with Green Building Certifications has risen in the past year and over 60 per cent believed that investor demand for sustainable buildings had increased during the same period. 40 per cent respondents also thought that green buildings would receive a rent premium compared to non-certified buildings. 

A survey featured in KPMG’s report ‘Real Estate in the New Reality’ found that 83 per cent of real estate professionals believed that COVID-19 will generate a significant increase in tenants’ demand for sustainable and environmental-friendly buildings. It also found that 85 per cent either were planning to change their portfolio strategy to focus more on sustainable investments or were already focused on ESG as a criteria. 

Stephen Wolfe, Head of Commercial, BNP Paribas Real Estate, says: “ESG and the return to the office are the most talked about topics right now, and both are very much interlinked. Covid-19 has made senior business leaders think carefully about the purpose of the office and how it is used. Going forward, the office certainly has a place in supporting business’ success yet it needs to offer much more than desks. The focus will be on creative working environments that offer a reason to come together and collaborate in person. This is why locations with a strong offer of quality sustainable offices with great facilities are attracting both businesses and talent.” 

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