Journal Native Land: our sustainability journey so far

Journal — July 4, 2022

Native Land: our sustainability journey so far

Journal — July 4, 2022 Native Land: our sustainability journey so far

The road to net zero is a journey: one everyone in the property industry must go down. Last year at Native Land we released the sustainability strategy for our Bankside Yards project, the UK’s first major mixed-use scheme to be net zero carbon in operation. This is one key step in our own net zero journey – but it is far from the first.

Since 2003, we have a £3 billion portfolio of projects and have worked hard to build in sustainable practices along the way. Our current sustainability strategy is a culmination of these learnings and reflects our ambition to protect biodiversity, pioneer low-carbon technologies and design more sustainable modes of construction.

Here we reflect on that journey and the projects that have helped to shape our sustainability strategy for Bankside Yards. We also look at how they have integrated into their environment since completion.


A landmark residential scheme, NEO Bankside was designed by world-renowned architect the late Richard Rogers and completed in 2012. It has since won numerous UK and international property awards.

At the time of construction, we installed the UK’s deepest ever energy piles. These 52m deep rotary-bored foundation piles double up as part of a ground-source heating and cooling system – which extracts heat from the ground during winter and gives heat back out to the ground during summer. More heat exchanged from the ground means less extra energy is required to heat and cool the building. The result has been to reduce carbon emissions at NEO Bankside by almost a quarter.

By working with the external environment, the residential towers are positioned to maximise daylight – saving on electricity – while winter gardens at the ends of the hexagonal blocks act as thermal buffers.

Most of all, NEO Bankside is known for its inviting and biodiverse public realm. Guided by BREEAM guidelines and biodiversity aims, landscape architects Gillespies placed great importance on selecting the most appropriate materials for NEO Bankside’s landscapes to support the local environment, humanise the space and endure for the long-term.

Gillespies included large tracts of native plants into the design, set within groves of trees to provide a ‘bank’ of flowers, seeds and nesting material to encourage a range of wildlife to the space.

Engineers Hoare Lea evolved the scheme to include a capacity for rainwater harvesting. Water retention boards were laid over the structural slab – providing a reserve of water to maintain soil saturation. This reduces the demands on mains water use.


Holland Park Villas combines exceptional private residences with 12,000 sq ft of shared amenity space where residents can meet, work and play. Considered one of London’s most desirable addresses, care and attention were key to the design.

The construction of the homes and surrounding gardens were eco-conscious in nature. All the timber and 99.8% of the materials used for construction was responsibly sourced. 98.1% of the construction waste was also diverted from the landfill.

Where possible, construction of fabricated services, cable trays and ductwork/pipe support frames all took place off-site. This process means that specific elements can be built on scale and more accurately, which is more energy efficient and reduces waste. Transporting the finished product to the site also uses fewer vehicles.

Following completion in 2017, Holland Park Villas was commended for its combined heat and power (CHP) system. This highly efficient heating method captures and utilises the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process – reducing demands on mains power. Solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system also serve to make Holland Park Villas more self-sufficient.

The development itself is built on the edge of Holland Park, 54 acres of green space. Landscape architects Gillespies drew on the neighbouring park for inspiration, creating a woodland belt of trees to wrap around the development.

Existing trees were integrated with new plants, both mature and young, within the central courtyard. A sequence of lawn terraces then leads up to a woodland walk which includes bluebells and ferns beneath a lush canopy of trees.

All areas which could be utilised to support nature have been. Roof spaces have been enhanced to become green areas as well as to house bird and bat boxes and beehives. This has facilitated an increase in local biodiversity, within the development and beyond.


Following the success of NEO Bankside, Native Land commissioned architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to design Burlington Gate on Cork Street, Mayfair. The commercial building was transformed into 42 apartments, with boutique-style amenities, a new pedestrian arcade and art gallery space on the ground floor

It is a deep site – which could have suffered from a lack of natural light if not for the well-considered design. RSH+P created two separate buildings parallel to one another and a courtyard between, with an east-west orientation to ensure maximum capture of sunlight.

Increased natural sunlight has benefits for the resident’s wellbeing, but it is also an effective, year-round energy saving method. By reducing the need for electrical lighting and by letting in solar heat, the carbon footprint is diminished. The building received BREEAM Excellent rating in 2011, prior to its completion in 2017.

The scheme includes combined heat and power plants and photovoltaic cells which reduce its carbon emissions by 36% more than building regulation requirements.

During 2018, extensive public realm improvements were undertaken in partnership with Westminster City Council, to enhance Cork Street. The expansion of the new arcade and wider pavements have made movement easier and encouraged increased pedestrianisation.

Next Article

Native Land submits plans for 80,600-sq-ft ’concept’ office at Bankside Yards

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