Leading real estate names gather for CUBE UK launch at White City Place
Leading names from across the real estate industry gathered last week for the CUBE Competition’s first UK event hosted by Stanhope and Savills at White City Place, a creative campus in the heart of West London.
Participants and supporters came together to celebrate the real estate industry’s first competition dedicated to empowering commercial buildings to make a significant contribution to net zero. A number of leading names have signed up since it was announced last year, including Landsec, Savills, Stanhope, and BNP Paribas.
Responsible for bringing CUBE to the UK, Managing Partner and CUBE Ambassador Greg Borel kicked off the event by talking passionately about the inspiration behind the competition and why he wanted to replicate its success in the UK. Greg said that after seeing CUBE in action across Europe – where it started thanks to his brother, Cedric Borel – he knew it could deliver the same impact in the UK. Thankfully, others agreed, and the competition has been gaining momentum ever since.
After Greg’s introduction, a video from the competition’s French rivals showcased a number of buildings participating in the competition, including JLL, Hines, Invesco and EDF.
Average savings across the competition in France currently stand at 13% with top performers achieving close to 30% savings in this year’s competition already! Cedric said he was proud to enter a new era for the competition in France and the UK and the competitive fun ahead.
Following that, the audience was asked to participate in a live poll to share their main motivation for joining the CUBE Competition, with 47% joining to hit net zero targets; 41% using the competition as an opportunity to engage with occupiers and/or landlords, and 13% who wanted to have some fun in the workplace.
Then it was time for a panel discussion chaired by Kristin Marin, CUBE UK Programme Manager, who brought together different building stakeholders to showcase the spirit and collaboration behind CUBE.
Kristin was joined onstage by Alice Jardine from Stanhope (Landlord), Madeleine Velupillai from Savills (Property Manager), and Justin Waylen (Estate Director) from White City Place, who talked about how the competition aligns with their overall net zero strategy and the importance of occupier engagement.
Alice spoke first about how CUBE fits into Stanhope’s overall net zero strategy, saying that the firm has ambitious ESG targets that recognise the property and construction industry’s vital role in cutting carbon emissions. Alice said that the objective for all its developments is “leaving behind a legacy of sustainable places” and that the firm recognises that it can’t do it alone and has to work with partners, clients, building manager teams, and occupiers to make a real impact. She said, “As soon as we heard about CUBE, we knew we had to get involved. It’s an innovative and fun way of working together to cut emissions.”
Madeleine talked about the challenge of engaging office occupiers to make investments where they’re needed at a time when they have other things dominating their attention, especially since the pandemic. She also spoke about the importance of sharing energy consumption data with tenants, so they understand and can see the immediate impact of their actions. Kristin agreed and said that some participants in France spend the first year of the competition establishing the data requirements, so they understand what’s needed before they start competing – it’s often a powerful way of justifying the interventions you might need to make further down the line.
From a technical perspective, Justin said that there are quick wins to be achieved at White City Place and key to that will be the occupier engagement, all of whom have different requirements, “It’s about engagement – some occupiers benefit from having their own green teams while others lack the resources, so we want to give them the support to make the right interventions that will reduce their energy consumption. On the estate itself, we’re also looking at ways to offset our own operational requirements.”
Following the panel discussion, the event hosts opened the conversation up to the floor and asked the attendees how they've started to engage occupiers and tenants internally to raise awareness of the competition. Sustainability Manager at Workspace, Ariane Ephraim said that the news has already been shared via an internal sustainability newsletter, which was received positively by the tenants across the two buildings participating.
Meanwhile, Kate Attwooll, Sustainability Executive at Landsec, said that the focus so far has been on mobilising the firm’s green teams who have presented to key stakeholders about the objectives of the competition to get their internal buy-in.
For the last activity of the day, the attendees split into groups for walkthroughs of The WestWorks and The MediaWorks, two office buildings located in the thriving White City Place business district, and a masterclass in making Origami cubes.
“Our annual kick-off event is always an important milestone in the CUBE calendar, but even more so this time as it’s our first in the UK. Seeing our participants and supporters together in one room was a really special moment as it shows how far we’ve come since our initial launch last year.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our participants who have taken a leap of faith and signed up for CUBE’s first annual competition. While we have a diverse range of participants involved, one thing they all share is a commitment to positive climate action and a deep understanding of why complementary initiatives like CUBE matter.”