Comment: Sharing sustainable construction with the world

International property fair MIPIM opens its doors today, and Clyde Gateway will be there as part of Team Scotland. MIPIM is big, international and truly global in ambition, and by attending, we put Clyde Gateway’s hat in the ring for the chance of significant international investment that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.

Clyde Gateway has encouraged innovation to minimise energy use in the construction and powering of new developments as an essential part of each design. Picture: Contributed

Clyde Gateway was established in 2008 following the news that Glasgow would host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Since then, more than £1.5 billion has been invested from both the public and private sector in the regeneration of 840 hectares across the east end of Glasgow and part of South Lanarkshire. Clyde Gateway’s purpose is rooted in people, place and jobs, and we want our area to be one of the foremost places in Scotland to live and work.

You perhaps don’t expect a regeneration programme like Clyde Gateway to be showcased at a glossy international event such as MIPIM, but I believe that we have to think global but act local. MIPIM gives Clyde Gateway a fantastic platform to demonstrate how developers and investors can deliver resilient, sustainable neighbourhoods here in Scotland.

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From the start, Clyde Gateway has encouraged innovative ideas to minimise energy use in the construction and powering of our new developments as an essential part of each design, rather than an afterthought. For example, the leather adorning the aeroplane seats of many MIPIM attendees will have made its way from Andrew Muirhead of Scottish Leather Group. Soon that leather will be produced using low carbon renewable heat. This is happening in Glasgow, as Canadian firm Sharc Energy Systems brings its heat recovery energy centre into use.

Sharc will use a significant waste water resource, located right in the heart of Clyde Gateway’s regeneration area, to heat and cool the commercial buildings that we are developing. This will have notable benefits for occupiers in terms of energy and cost savings – a live example of how the real estate industry can capitalise on renewable technology to produce developments that are robust, low-carbon and less dependent on fossil fuels. The spin-off of this investment is that low cost heat can also be delivered to local homes, so that everyone benefits.

Our ambition at Clyde Gateway is to create a truly sustainable city district on a par with European exemplars. The next round of our low carbon journey will see us working in partnership with cities in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and England as we explore fifth generation district heating and cooling networks (5GDHC). This will provide cooling networks designed to support next generation workspaces, with offices which are cooled by low cost renewable resources.

We’re seeing a change in occupier priorities. No longer focused purely on cost, they increasingly understand their corporate responsibilities and want their buildings and places to reflect their values and offer a good quality of life and wellbeing for their staff. You can already live and work in Clyde Gateway – our partners are nearly halfway to completing more than 6,000 new homes within 20 minutes’ walk of Magenta, our major office development with our partner Highbridge Properties – which is also being promoted at MIPIM by the Department for International Trade. A model like this means people become less car dependent and more active, and employers enjoy access to a ready-made labour market in their local community.

Regeneration is a long-term commitment, and patient investors and developers looking for sustained growth can enjoy those benefits in areas like Clyde Gateway. When investment is combined with low carbon technologies, offers jobs to local people and helps businesses grow, then the social value of that investment becomes very significant. That’s a message worth spreading far and wide.

- Martin McKay, executive director of regeneration at Clyde Gateway