Lendlease is all about creating the best places, and sustainability is a really key part of that. So that means creating a positive social legacy in the areas that we operate. But also, making sure that we tread lightly on the planet in the way that we design, build, and operate our buildings. So I often joke that sustainability is a little bit like love. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. And it’s not a sustainable building unless it’s built with good public transport, good energy efficiency, water efficiency, if it’s operated well in terms of waste management, if it adds biodiversity.
Health and well-being is taken into consideration and people leave healthier than when they arrived, because we’ve provided good cycling facilities. We’ve provided good natural daylight, air, views, good healthy food while you’re here. All of those things are things that human beings want in buildings. And that’s what we’ve got to scale up on a precinct like IQL or any other projects we look at, is how do we take those human elements into buildings and make them sing. So that’s what I do.
And the most fun part of that role is when you walk into your buildings for the first time, and you see real people coming in, not CGI images, but real people coming in, having a cup of coffee in the cafe, in the foyer, or workers coming in and bringing their worldly goods to sit on their desks at work, and starting to actually utilise the spaces that you’ve designed in concept. And then getting the fantastic feedback that they like what you’ve actually built for them. In every development we look at, we have to balance the economic, social, and environmental aspects. And in my view, sustainability is about taking a long-term view of those things.
And if you actually invest in the environmental and social elements, then generally you get better economic outcomes over the long term. Sometimes there’s a tension between short-term economic gain and investing in some of these things. Take energy efficiency, for example. It does cost more to build an energy efficient building, or to put photovoltaics on the rooftop. But if you have a good net present value calculation, or you can do a good return on investment, then you can actually build a business case around sustainability over the long term. And bear in mind, most of the buildings that are being built today will last 50 to 100 years.
It’s not hard to actually build into your scenario analysis something that actually adds value to the building owners and occupiers over the longer term. So a really good example of investing in the long term would be our London living wall, which we’ve built here. So rather than just building a very bland retaining wall that looks like every other retaining wall along the railway lines, we wanted to add biodiversity to our strategy.
And that was one of the biggest areas that we could add a little bit of greenery to the space, but also provide areas for birds, bats, and insects, to actually come back and recolonize this area, which will add a lot of passive elements to the area that people will actually benefit from. The textured finish has lots of crevices, lots of lumps, and bumps, and holes in which insects and animals can nest. Vegetation can grow up the wall. So we have the flora, we have the fauna, bird boxes, bat boxes, swallow hotels, blue tip boxes installed all over the retaining wall to try and encourage life even further. On the existing soil bank was actually a 45 degree slope.
But to make it a vertical retaining wall, we actually gained an extra 10 metres out towards the rail, which could enable a better public realm space for the overall integrated development. What I’d say about sustainability is that is ever changing, and there’s new technologies coming on board all the time. Sometimes it’s about getting the fundamentals right, like building orientation, or getting the facades correct. But, yeah, there’s new pieces of technology that are coming along all the time that Lendlease invests in. Chilled beams is a classic example. We’re building them here at IQL, our head office at the Bond in Sydney, Australia was the first building that we built to pioneer the technology of using chilled beams to cool buildings.
So you pump water through basically a radiator. And through convection, hot air rises, it hits the chilled beam, and then drops back down again. And basically, cools the space passively, rather than having to move air around a commercial building through air ducts, etc . It’s a much more efficient way of cooling a building. And you can actually heat a building if you provide hot water through the network as well. There is tensions in the way that we build buildings that can be mitigated. So the most energy efficient building is one that’s a hermetically sealed black box. It’s not very pleasant to be inside of.
So a lot of what I deal with is trying to balance the most effective environmental attributes of a building. So we want to provide a 100% fresh air, that means we have to either heat to cool more air to come into the building, which makes it slightly less energy efficient. But we think that’s a valuable trade off, in terms of the health and well-being of people. And buildings are all for people. So that’s one of the attractions of the property sector, is things continually move and change. And you’ve got to keep up with that.
But eventually, you get a building, and you can point at bits of it, and say, yep, I was involved in the decision about that, or I was involved in the meeting where we decided to design that thing. So it’s quite an interesting career choice.