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‘Green’ offices in London are over 25% more expensive. But a modern workforce now expects it

LONDON — A fifth of the world’s biggest companies have committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions, according to analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, and a large portion of those emissions come from the workplace.

Demand for sustainable offices is high, which means prices are, too. In fact, there is now a 26% gap in sale prices between London buildings with sustainability ratings from organizations such as BREEAM and LEED and those without, according to data from analytics company MSCI.

That’s known as the “green premium.” On the flip side, less environmentally friendly, typically older, buildings come with a “brown discount.”

That seems to leave company bosses and investors with a simple choice between lower overheads and lower emissions — but there’s more to the story.

Joy Nazzari is the founding director of London-based tech company Showhere. She’s looking to grow her business but her former warehouse office building is too small and inaccessible for people with disabilities, so it’s “mission critical” that the team relocates.

“Cost is an incredible barrier,” Nazzari told CNBC, adding that an increase in office size and better green credentials would cause rent to go up by “at least 50%” from what she’s seen on the market so far.

“When we’re looking at buildings with this brown discount it’s hard to not go for a building like ours which is a cute old warehouse,” she said.

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