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Development Securities’ business spans commercial and residential projects, including complex urban regeneration. It is fully appreciated that these projects have a lasting social, economic and environmental impact. We believe this contribution should be a positive one, and our sustainability programme, developed in conjunction with our contractors and professional advisors, is internally reviewed on an annual basis.
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RISK AWARENESS AND CORPORATE REPUTATION
It is encouraging to note that in 2007 your Company met the criteria for membership of the FTSE4Good Index, a globally recognised index measuring corporate responsibility standards. In addition, Development Securities was awarded the prestigious Excellent BREEAM rating in 2007, an acknowledgement of the initiatives and progress made on a wide range of sustainability and energy efficient factors at PaddingtonCentral, which included an emphasis on bio-diversity enhancement. We aim for further improvements in 2008 and beyond, with the aim of improving our own risk awareness in relation to sustainability issues and the associated impact on our own corporate reputation. By pursuing this approach we are better positioned to address growing public concerns while operating within the demands of the occupier and investor markets.
In this context, Development Securities seeks to foster dialogue and thought leadership on the subject of sustainability. In 2007, we commissioned a research project to review the impact of the built environment and to make recommendations to be taken forward as a possible blueprint to assist the focus on the appropriate reaction required to address excessive carbon emissions.
Local and national government direction on sustainability issues in recent years has been significant, with increasing emphasis through the planning process on embedding sustainability into design and construction processes. Local Authorities, rightly, occupy the role of primary change drivers for such initiatives. For our part, we must be able to do the best we can to satisfy the requirements they demand in response to the expectations of the public they represent. Our primary obligation in this respect though is to our shareholders and the market we operate within. Our ability to offer commercially appropriate solutions when required stems from our expertise in mobilising and integrating the skills of others as part of our own project management capability.
As an illustration of our approach, we have recently entered into partnership with Blue (Sustainable Living) Limited, a business that fosters the incorporation of wide ranging and high standards of sustainability into new residential developments. We hope that the partnership will further expand our core area of expertise and experience in this field.
We also engage with our professional advisory teams, including leading architects and engineers, to explore technological solutions that help minimise any negative environmental impact arising from our projects, not only as a response to legislation but also as part of the continual improvement process outlined above. Technological innovation can take the form of improved design, an enhanced construction process and the implementation of renewable energy systems. This is clearly an area in flux, with few generally accepted standards and fast changing public perception. It is our aim to manage technological innovation in a cost-effective manner, always recognising our ultimate responsibility to work within the demands of our market place.
One Kingdom Street at PaddingtonCentral, in a virtually vehicle-free street level environment, incorporates solar collector panels to serve hot water circuits, geo-thermal piles to provide sustainable comfort cooling, cystermisers to reduce water consumption and low emission Nox Boilers.
Engaging with communities affected by our development schemes enhances our reputation as a company that recognises its responsibilities both towards the physical environment and its local occupants. This reputation as a responsible developer is vital to the continuation of our ‘mandate to operate’. We endeavour to involve local communities around most of our active developments. Examples include PaddingtonCentral, where we are a member of the Paddington Waterside Partnership, where a coordinated approach is taken through practical actions involving volunteering assistance to the local voluntary and community sector, educational activities and event planning. Adjacent to The Royals Business Park in one of the most deprived areas of East London, we actively support both Richard House, the local children’s hospice and the excellent Ascension Eagles youth community project. For many years now we have ensured that these two groups are represented with us in the City of London Lord Mayor’s Show.
We believe the involvement of our employees in these projects can be beneficial to them in many ways, not just in their professional lives and this is encouraged as much as is possible. Development Securities can also act as a catalyst to involve others in providing social and economic benefits where they are needed.