PwC opens net-zero hub in Glasgow as countdown to COP26 gets underway

With less than two weeks to go until COP26 begins, PwC has transformed its Glasgow office into a net-zero hub which reduced its carbon footprint by 73% reduction, based on a ten-year lifecycle.

PwC opens net-zero hub in Glasgow as countdown to COP26 gets underway

It is from this space that the firm will help its clients navigate their paths to net-zero ahead of the UK deadline in 2050, alongside existing audit, tax and deals services.

The sustainability formula of ‘Build less, build clever, design for adaptability and disassembly’ led to 52% of the carbon savings coming from re-using existing materials, while 21% came through the use of low carbon materials.

The refurbishment of the 711 sq m space retains existing features while refreshing and improving the functionality of the space. This, combined with a strong local narrative related to location and history, has created a really distinctive space.

The design inspiration came from a number of local sources, including the classic tiled tenement closes found throughout Glasgow; the city’s Coat of Arms; and the abundance of parks within Greater Glasgow - each meeting room is even named after one of the city’s many ‘Dear Green Places’.

PwC occupies two floors of 141 Bothwell Street, with the refurbished Level 5 open to clients and guests of the firm. The previous fit-out had ‘embodied carbon’ – the amount of carbon emitted in the materials used in assembly – of 50.2 tonnes over a ten-year lifecycle, mainly through internal walls and partitions, doors, and fittings and furnishings.

The new fit-out sees this drop to just 12.2 tonnes of CO2. The project focuses on materials that PwC’s contractors were able to replace or reuse and not the structure of the building.

Among some of the solutions were switching the specifications of glass table tops to make them less carbon intensive in the manufacturing process, to swapping metal tables and chairs to biomaterials like wood and wool.

Robin McBurnie, senior partner for PwC in Glasgow, said: “As a proud Glaswegian, it’s fantastic to see how the designers have drawn from the city’s history to create a modern space from where we can really drive the message that businesses must be looking to the future with their Net Zero targets front of mind.

“Our new Net Zero Hub will be the focal point of the many conversations we will have during the COP26 fortnight, and beyond, and we can show our clients and visitors how we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 73% through using the principles of build nothing, build less, build clever and build efficiently.”

PwC has been operationally carbon neutral for 14 years, and in 2020 the firm’s carbon emissions fell to 96% below a 2007 baseline, against a 2022 target of a 40% reduction. This was within the context of COVID-19 and restrictions on business travel, however, the year before saw a reduction to 60% below the baseline.

Energy use across the firm’s UK offices has been reduced by 61% and the proportion of energy that comes from renewable sources to 86%.

In the run-up to COP26, the firm is empowering its people to take positive action themselves through supporting and promoting the Count Us In programme. This is a global initiative which aims to inspire a billion people to significantly reduce their carbon footprint whilst challenging leaders to set and deliver bold climate commitments at COP26 and beyond.

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