I need your help!

I have blogged a few times about values with specific reference to green buildings. Professionally this is an important subject for me – as you might imagine!

Currently, the hard evidence on the relationship between values on ‘green’ and ‘not-green’ buildings is sketchy at best, but perplexing at worse. It seems that (generally) a premium is being paid for ‘green’ residential property, whereas a discount is being applied to commercial property. The real problem is that it is very difficult to pin this down – and valuers love that saying that ‘we practice an art not a science’. Sometimes it looks like a black art.

I need some help…

I am working a paper with Nottingham University which firstly, tries to identify if the supposition about premiums and discounts is true and identifiable (no mean task). But if this is the case – why?

So, if you can help please get in touch.

If you just have a view as to why a green commercial building would be less appealing than a non-green building I would be interested to know. Even if you are not a surveyor or valuer…

I look forward to the comments – if you don’t want your comments to be ‘public’ feel free to email me at

Carluccio’s for breakfast

You might recall that I had blogged about both Jamie Oliver and Carluccio’s opening in Nottingham. Both are great names for the City. I am really looking forward to my meal with friend at Jamies Italian next week.

But last week I had a breakfast meeting in Nottingham and the venue was Carluccio’s on Low Pavement. Having missed the opening (in New York at the time!) this was my first chance to see the new restaurant and, more importantly, taste the food. And drink the coffee of course!

And it doesn’t disappoint – coffee comes in two strengths and was a fair match for my Starbuscks regular blend. And pancotta with egg and bacon was delicious.

Nottingham has lifted it’s game recently in the food stakes and it is really good to see some big brand names here – who exist because of the quality of the offer. I can wholeheartedly recommend breakfast – I am now working my way up to lunch and before long, will have dinner there. Go for a meal – you won’t be disappointed!


By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Breakfast, Carluccio's, Jamie Oliver, Jamie's Italian, , Restaurant

40,000 hits…. thanks

It was 7th January 2011 when I was thanking you for hitting this blog 30,000 times. Today 40,000 was hit. And my daily average has gone from 121 to 243…in that time.

The biggest day was 643 – when you seemed to be in search of information about Jamie’s Italian – after my home page this blog is by far the most popular!

Anyway – thanks for dropping by…it’s appreciated. And I have another milestone to tell you about in the next couple of days…

50,000 hits here we come?

A free book

I was wandering a round a bookshop in New York last week and came across a book by Scott Phillips called “Rut”. I picked it up, I have often wondered how the psychology of book covers work – what attracts us to them? Or rather what attracts some people but not others?

The book is Sci-Fi and set in 2050. I have just finished it. And there’s not much unusual about that you might think?

Except that the cover price of this book was $0.00. Zip, zilch, free. Or, in marketing speak – a book with 100% off!

It was published by Concord Free Press – and the blurb on the back of the book tells you, “By taking a copy you agree to give away money to a local charity, someone who needs it, or a stranger on the street. Where the money goes or how much you give – that’s your call. When you’re done, pass this novel onto someone else (for free, of course) so they can give. It all adds up.

You can find out why they do this here.

This is a great concept. It is reckoned that around $150,000 has been given to Charity.

I have made my donation to Charity; if anyone would like the book next – let me know. I enjoyed it, especially at such a low cover price! Somehow, that made it all the better. It’s not a gentle read – but a bleak look at how the world might look in 2050…

I’m now off to read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point – which is the book I paid for in the shop…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Free Book, Malcolm Gladwell, Rut, Scott Phillips, Tipping Point

HS2, the FT and Radio Nottingham

It was a busy day yesterday! Breakfast was with the Regional Editor for Property Week – one of the Industries top read magazines. I was telling him all about HS2 and how Nottingham ‘needed’ a station on the new line…

Then I got a call to say that a letter I had signed along with 68 other Business leaders from Nottingham and around the UK had appeared in the Financial Times. The letter was effectively supporting the HS2 line. And then the phone started ringing – a brief interview with Radio Nottingham and another with The Nottingham Evening Post rounded my day off!

The theme of the questions was ‘why do you support the HS2 Line?’ – which is quite easy really.

I think it will be great for Nottingham. Clearly a major benefit will be for business commuting to London with a journey time estimed at under an hour. But it’s not just to London, many of our businesses are now competing overseas and in Europe. It will connect us with Europe more easily. But I have another view – a station in Nottingham will put us on the map. It will encourage visitors here. We need this – we need, at the same time, to capitalise on Robin Hood (and I hope to have more on that at a later date!).

But there are some other interesting facts around the line (which seems to have attracted more NIMBY-ISM than positive press?). Firstly, it is estimated that around 40,000 jobs will be created around the construction of the line and in regenerated areas near the new stations. If you free up the exiting lines of the faster trains more local services will be able to be run (fast trains and slow trains don’t mix!). And, for the green agenda, it will be carbon neutral from the start.

There will clearly be some disruption – and I understand the NIMBY lobby. But we need to see the bigger picture here. This is a long term project that could secure a very rosy picture for Nottingham, and the surrounding towns. It would give us a competitive edge over other places.

And that’s why I lend my support wholeheartedly to the scheme…

Energy Figures

In my industry we are obviously being herded into a green agenda by a number of means – taxes (like the Carbon Reduction Commitment) and by rules (like The Building Regulations). The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) issued targets for carbon reduction in 2008. The targets (against a base-line of 1990) are for a 34% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

It is estimated that by 2020 around 31% of our energy bills will be taxes for environmental regulation!

I was interested to see a table in the Mail on Sunday magazine (it’s the only bit I read) – this showed the amount of energy produced by each sector but alongside showed the CO2 generated.

The results were:

Fossil Fuels – 71% of consumption – 410g-800g per KWh produced
Hydroelectric – 1.3% of consumption – 3-11g per KWh.
Solar – 0.029% and 0.59g per KWh
Nuclear – 16% and 5g per KWh
Wind – 4.6% and 5g per KWh

The balance of our energy is purchased from overseas.

So, Wind and Nuclear look a good bet.

But a word of warning on Wind Turbines. In December 2010, we may have had a cold snap, but it was not good for wind generation. Peak demand on December 20th for the UK was 60,000 mega watts. The wind turbines collectively produced 140 mega watts that day – or 0.2% of the demand! They were running at 2.43% of their own capacity.

I can’t help but feel that we really are playing something of a guessing game with some of this technology. It bothers me that we are being beaten with various sticks and yet we don’t have sufficient reliable data to be able to settle on a grand plan.

I am working on some research at the moment looking at green technology in commercial buildings and their impact on value. My basic premise is that the market generally is quite cynical about some of the green credentials being peddled and is discounting buildings – rather than paying a premium.

I will return to this subject!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Green stuff, Nottingham Tagged , CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Fossil fuel, Greenhouse gas, Kilowatt hour, Nuclear Energy, Wind power

The green agenda carrot and stick

I was at an interesting event a couple of weeks ago. It was a Nottingham Green Tech Business network event at Bio City. A panel of assembled luminaries shared their collective experiences of how we were moving towards greener buildings – and housing in particular.

It became clear during the discussion that things need to change. There is talk that within the next few years the cost of energy will sky-rocket – and an average home will need between £3,000 and £5,000 a year to stay warm and lit. There is a real danger of fuel poverty in the not too distant future.

Legislation (the stick) is driving some of agenda – particularly in housing. Zero Carbon is the target. But as was pointed out, zero carbon does not equal zero fuel bills. And it is not the whole answer. We have become quite obsessed with our carbon footprint, but in reality the building fabric we construct is also of importance. This is where the discussion was centered – the overwhelming view was that we need to re-think the way in which we put buildings together and erect them. Our problem may be in the way we prefer to see our buildings – with brick skins…

I have been a sceptic of some of the technology we are using. Eco-bling is a big market, but it can only be part of the solution. Just because a house has solar panels, ground source heat pumps, triple glazing doesn’t automatically win brownie points at the green awards. Human behaviour plays a huge part. Both general education, but specific learning of how systems work is critical. There was little point one of the panel suggested in having a green tech piece of kit with a switch – when the switch had been wrongly identified as an immersion heater! They didn’t understand why their bills were going up!

I thought the most interesting question was ‘how do we cost-effectively improve our existing housing stock’. The answer was ‘insulation and draught-proofing’. These relatively simple measure would make an enormous difference to a households energy consumption. The amusing finding in one study was that in some areas where free loft insulation had been offered, residents take up was poor – because, when quizzed, they said that it was a lot of hassle to clear the loft!

I may well be in the latter camp!

New York – Part five – the last chapter

The time has come to head back to Blighty. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone – we need to plan to come back soon.

I have been thinking about what draws me to this place. Clearly if you have an interest in architecture this helps – there are some brilliant buildings here, new ones from Gehry to Libeskind – but some great works of art like at Guggenheim (Frank Lloyd Wright) and The Chrysler Building – by William Van Alen. Wherever you look you can find great architecture.

If I am honest I am not a fan of midtown Manhattan – The bright lights of Times Square are not the real New York – they are just the glossy veneer of a place which is much more interesting below the surface.

My favourite parts of the City run around Bleeker Street – Soho, The Village and the Meatpacking District. These places have a more human scale. They are more quirky – although Soho is more commercialised now – with the big names having moved in. But you can still find some gems around the areas if you look hard enough. But you do need to explore and be prepared to go off the beaten track.

The independents survive here somehow, they have learned to differentiate their products. Some have even learned some manners! I am sure they have to work very hard to make a living as rents in the City are eye-watering. You can rent a window space!

So I think that is it – what draws me is exploring the myriad of grid-iron streets – and finding new things. They don’t have to be designer shops – just different. And each time I come I find something new…

New York – Part Four

I don’t walk this far at home – for two days running (walking?) we have covered nearly seven miles on foot. The first day was warm, the second bitterly cold in the wind chill factor.

The Freedom Tower underway

This is quite a small City really – pinned in to a sliver of an Island just 13 miles longs and 2.3 miles wide. It always feels much bigger, but thats because what they lack in ground cover they more than make up for in height. Some of the buildings make your eyes water looking up.

There really is something about New York – it’s the smell, the noise, the sight’s – all assaulting your senses siumultaneoulsy. It’s not a City for the feint-hearted.

The New Yorkers have a ‘look’ and an attitude. Their initial reaction to you is almost of aggression. They are disarmed by our politeness! They also don’t ‘get’ sarcasm. The man in the Camera shop who asked me what was in the carrier bag (it was small camera bag) was less than impressed with my suggestion of a ‘puppy dog’. That would have been cruel anyway?

We saw Ground Zero yesterday – where works to create the Freedom Tower (more properly known as One World Trade Center) is now well underway – and I guess it is one third up. It is going to have a massive impact on the skyline. It will be 541m high (1,776 ft for those Surveyors amongst you). That is 1/3 mile – and will make it America’s tallest building.

It is, of course, 10 years this year since the events of 9/11. It has taken some time to re-construct this part of town – which was just decimated by the events on that fateful September morning. The 16 acre site makes you realise the devastation suffered. It is reckoned that all of the new skyscrapers on the site will be open by 2015…

You can already see the built form emerging of the faceted faces of OWTC. It looks as though this is going to be some of the most exciting architecture in a City where you can see stunning buildings at every corner. And that’s why you need to walk around this place!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged J&R, , New York City, One World Trade Center, Skyscraper, Terrorism, , World Trade Center site

A pretty cool app?

I have a number of apps on my iphone 4 – some of which I doubt have seen the light of day since they were installed – others I use a lot!

Shazam is my favourite – and it still amazes me when it ‘finds’ the tune listened to in a few seconds. I also use Sky+ for setting programmes at home. I think the QR code readers will become more important in time.

But in New York this morning they were advertising an app for Chase Banking services. As well as the usual (and not particularly special) ability to see your account balance you can pay money in to your account. You simply take a photograph of the check (they mean cheque!) with their app – and the money is paid in!

Now that is clever!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged Apps, Banking, Chase, Check, shazam, sky+