Bringing the wonder back to Earls Court.

Phil Grew, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Phil Grew

A nature-based net-zero neighbourhood for West London.

Challenge accepted.

How do we shape strategy and sustainability goals that are fit for the future? The approach we’ve taken to the transformation of the 40-acre former Earls Court Exhibition Centre site is all about being a ‘good ancestor’ by leaving a positive long-term legacy. With one of the largest energy-loop heating network in the UK and 60% of the site unbuilt to maximise space for nature and people, we are helping create a people-centric and planet-conscious development for the 21st and 22nd centuries.

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There is no other central London site like this; this is our chance to build sustainably and innovatively for the future, ensuring that Earls Court is a place to discover wonder for generations to come.
Rob Heasman, CEO, ECDC

Shaping London’s future.

We were challenged with supporting our client, The Earls Court Development Company (ECDC), to set out their Sustainable Development Charter (Principles for Future Living) for the development of the area – identified as an Opportunity Area by the Mayor of London, vital in delivering the homes and jobs London needs for the future.

The area will be transformed into an inspiring neighbourhood with circa 4,000 new homes, targeting 35% affordable, 2.5 million sq ft of workspace, three major new culture and performance venues, a network of Exhibition Gardens and open spaces, including a 4.5-acre urban park and the creation of 12,000 new jobs.

‘Good ancestor’ design.

Using a ‘good ancestor’ ethos in our work we developed sustainability goals for the masterplan that would be considered ambitious if set in 2050. Thinking of the future first, we worked backwards to set the goals for today that will ensure the long-term low impact of the project. We set long term goals that encompass all business activity and include embodied carbon as well as operational carbon. We introduced adaptable systems that could be expanded beyond the development, introducing new approaches to energy and technologies. We were guided by evidence, gathered expert advice, and have committed to publishing targets, demonstrating that they will be met.

The goals establish the means to improve performance year-on-year, and provides a mechanism by which those who live, work, and visit Earls Court can assess the extent to which ECDC has delivered on its promise.

Vital to our approach has been facilitating collaboration with the client, the design team and other stakeholders by deploying an online sustainability portal. This continues to drive engagement across the project, tracks progress, and keeps open dialogue going throughout the project lifecycle.
technical impact

Zero operational carbon from the outset.

We set the target for the project to go beyond net zero carbon emissions. To ensure the project meets this goal we created a carbon budget at masterplan level, then allocated a carbon allowance to each plot – running whole life carbon assessments to prove that we can meet the goals of the charter This will enable ECDC to deliver some of the lowest embodied carbon workspaces and homes, with the aim of improving health and wellbeing and delivering a high quality of living and working space, whilst reducing the impact upon the planet.

We created the energy strategy with adaptability, resilience and scalability at its core. A first in the UK at this scale, we advocated for the largest mixed-use low-temperature ambient-loop energy network in the UK. Ideal for the Earls Court site, it will create a symbiotic relationship between buildings that have different uses – residential, commercial, recreational – to harvest and share heat, which will deliver zero operational carbon emissions from the outset. The energy network will be a community asset with the potential to connect with buildings beyond the development, expanding and sharing the opportunities with the wider Earl’s Court community.
human impact

Celebrating and enhancing the natural environment.

To support our goal to deliver cleaner air and to reduce noise to improve well-being, we capitalised on the area’s excellent public transport links to propose a largely car free site and zero combustion in day-to-day operations. Responding to consultation feedback, we worked with landscape architects and ecologists to ensure 60% of the site will be unbuilt maximising the opportunities for nature to thrive and for people to enjoy. These initiatives will bring qualitative benefits and create a place that people will enjoy spending time in. We also led the water strategy, anticipating the future stresses on both the drainage and water networks in London, advocating for reduced flooding through infiltration techniques coupled with extensive rainwater harvesting and reuse, and natural water management such as rain gardens and swales. Our Biome tool facilitated these - and future - discussions quantifying the value of a landscape-led development and how they impact on sustainability targets, business priorities and wider value creation. Ultimately, this will ensure Earl’s Court becomes the destination for sustainable living, creative talent and clean-climate tech.
Key Figures
20 Acres of public realm
3 Major new cultural and performance venues
1,000+ New trees
12,000 New jobs

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Our work with ECDC speaks for itself – now extending beyond the Earls Court masterplan to their net zero organisational goals. We wrote ECDC’s Race to Zero plan, which set decarbonisation targets and actions for their assets and operations, allowing them to sign up to the Science Based Targets Initiative pledge.
Greg Jones, Director, Hoare Lea
Phil Grew, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Phil Grew