News release

JLL joins forces with Westminster City Council in the fight against climate change

New white paper sets out radical changes to reduce environmental impact of central London’s built environment.

November 20, 2020

A new white paper provides a radical blueprint for how to reduce the environmental impact of Central London’s built environment, which accounts for over 60% of the area’s carbon emissions.

The paper, Zero Carbon Westminster: a white paper on decarbonising the City’s built environment, commissioned by Westminster Property Association (“WPA”) has been in written in collaboration with property leaders, including JLL, and Westminster City Council in response to the council declaring a climate emergency and committing to a carbon neutral City by 2040, ten years ahead of UK Government targets.

The white paper highlights the particular challenge in improving the environmental performance of Westminster’s built environment as a result of its world-class heritage, comprising 11,000 listed buildings and structures, 56 conservation areas and older housing stock, with 46% built before 1800.

The white paper calls on Westminster’s property owners, developers and investors to:

  • Commit to all new developments being ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030, fully electrified (or using other low carbon heating options) and powered by renewable energy;

  • Subscribe to a progressive and impactful carbon reduction framework which covers both building construction and operations;

  • Drive tenant engagement with a building’s sustainability credentials, such as natural light and urban greening, to ensure that buildings designed to a high sustainability standard have low energy use and emissions. Tenant behaviour could be influenced through the introduction of ‘green’ clauses within leases to encourage or mandate the sharing of energy data;

  • Attract finance from lenders which reward sustainable investment strategies to invest and innovate for a zero-carbon future.

The paper also calls for policymakers, in both local and national government, to drive long-term change through interventions such as:

  • Lobby national Government to remove VAT on retrofit projects, helping to make retrofitting historic buildings and heritage spaces commercially viable;

  • Enable and invest in renewable energy infrastructure for local neighbourhoods;

  • Introduce ‘climate first’ planning policies that give greater weight to whole life carbon reduction while maintaining commercial viability. Carbon should become a more visible part of the planning process, with new policies designed in consultation with sustainability experts and the property sector, and this should be supported by the Government’s proposed reforms of the national planning system;

  • Reform the use of offset funds to be more transparent and deliver tangible community benefits.

The City of Westminster is the economic and cultural heart of London; home to 55,000 businesses, 120k employees per sq km and producing £2bn in business rate income for HM Treasury; its transformation into a net zero carbon City must make sure it can continue to be an economic and cultural powerhouse in the post-Covid economy.

Sonal Jain, Net zero carbon director at JLL, said: “With the built environment being the most significant contributor of emissions within Westminster, the decarbonisation of buildings is going to be crucial in delivering the vision of a net zero carbon Westminster by 2040. JLL welcomes the ambition set by the council and is looking forward to working with our clients and partners on driving the transformation of Westminster’s built environment.”

Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: “I am extremely pleased to be supporting this white paper and very much welcome the commitment from the Westminster Property Association to work with us to tackle the pressing issue of climate change and deliver a net zero carbon city by 2040.

 “I know that many landowners, businesses and residents are already taking great strides to reduce carbon emissions from their buildings, but we will only achieve the scale of impact required to deliver a net zero carbon Westminster by 2040 by working together. This white paper is an important first step and I very much look forward to working with the WPA to implement the recommendations.”

Co-Chairs of the research Michael Meadows (British Land – Head of Planning) and Tor Burrows (Grosvenor Britain & Ireland – Director of Sustainability & Innovation) commented: 

“81% of the public are concerned about climate change, and the business case for green investment is clear. Businesses and policymakers must work together, in partnership with local residents and commercial occupiers, to accelerate delivery and secure a net zero carbon future.

“Fit for purpose, flexible work and retail spaces are required to retain and attract businesses and visitors to Westminster, and maintain the area’s economic competitiveness, as well as homes for residents. But these buildings should also be green, achieved through sensitive retrofit or redevelopment, where appropriate, to deliver the highest possible environmental standards.

“Achieving these goals in a post-Covid economy will be challenging, but we simply cannot afford to delay.” 

‘Zero Carbon Westminster: a white paper on decarbonising the City’s built environment’ has been produced with support from consultants JLL and WSP, data provided by Vu.City; engagement with policymakers at Westminster City Council; and input from a steering group of sustainability and planning experts from the WPA membership.


About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $18.0 billion in 2019, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of over 92,000 as of September 30, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit