UK-GBC Launches Unique ‘Open Innovation’ Programme

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has announced the launch of its first Innovation Lab, a radical new approach to innovation in the built environment. The Lead Partners for this new programme are: Canary Wharf Group, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer.

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The Innovation Lab will identify and address systemic challenges facing businesses within the sector, and co-create innovative and highly sustainable solutions. The open innovation format allows participating organisations to convene around a common challenge and collaborate freely, whilst sharing the risk and potential rewards. It is often the case that open innovation is avoided in the built environment industry as intellectual property issues are perceived as prohibitive. However, UK-GBC has worked carefully to address these issues upfront to ensure these are not a barrier to collaboration for innovation.

Head of Leadership and Innovation at UK-GBC, Cat Hirst, said:

“Research and Development levels across our industry are painfully low; the UK currently only spends £43m on construction R&D. The risks to a single company of investing in developing a solution for such a high-cost industry is often seen as prohibitive. But we desperately need to find ways of working together to achieve radical change if we are to challenge business as usual and transition to a sustainable way of working.

“At UK-GBC we’re seeking to catalyse this change by using our unique position to convene our member organisations to work together to address the issues our industry faces.  We want to ensure there is the time, space, and structure for open innovation to occur for the built environment.

“The Innovation Lab is not just about finding one solution to one problem, it’s about fostering a more open and collaborative approach to problem solving as an industry. We need to build the capacity of our industry to innovate and find the right approach to being creative and collaborative within a commercial setting.”

The Innovation Lab began last month with a workshop to identify the ‘breakthrough challenge’ which will form the focus of a 9-month programme of work.  In order to arrive at the challenge, UK-GBC is working with the Lead Partners and thought leaders from the wider UK-GBC membership to explore future trends for the built environment as well as key environmental and social challenges, and pain points for business. The initial workshop highlighted key industry challenges around climate change resilience, resource use, shifting demographics, technological advancement and health and wellbeing.

Over the coming weeks, the breakthrough challenge will be refined in consultation with the Lead Partners. The next workshop will be on 1 February, where Innovation Lab participants will begin to respond to this challenge by mapping existing innovations and, where a gap is identified, generating new innovative solutions to solve the challenge.

The Innovation Lab is being delivered in collaboration with Switch On Worldwide.


Notes to editors

Quotes from Lead Partners:

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovation process which brings exciting potential to work collaboratively with our peers and our Level39 community, and build upon our status as one of the most forward-looking business and retail districts in the world. Above all, we look forward to driving improvements from which we can all benefit.”
Martin Gettings, Group Sustainability Manager, Canary Wharf Group

“The Innovation Lab will provide us with an exciting opportunity to work and collaborate with businesses in the property industry, to explore innovative sustainable solutions. Most importantly we want to see how sustainability can help to break through some of the challenges our sector is currently facing.”
Caroline Hill, Head of Sustainability, Land Securities

“It’s vital that businesses come together to find and develop solutions to common problems and challenges for the industry. At M&S we recognise that we can maximise the impact of our actions by sharing and supporting others on their journey to a more sustainable built environment, as well as continually improving our own development practices.”
Lydia Hopton, Plan A Project Manager, Marks & Spencer 


About UK-GBC

The UK Green Building Council’s mission is to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment, by transforming the way it is planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated. We are a membership organisation, launched in 2007, primarily consisting of businesses from across the industry.

Uniquely, we bring together anyone involved in the complex process of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining and operating buildings, along with NGOs, academic institutions and government agencies. More information about UK-GBC can be found here:


About Canary Wharf Group

Canary Wharf Group plc has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, designing and building more than 16m sq ft of London real estate, which now houses a wide  range of local and international companies and renowned retailers. It is also home to Level39, the world’s most connected technology accelerator for finance, smart-city, cybersecurity and retail technology businesses.

The Canary Wharf Estate is a major retail destination comprising around 1m sq ft across five shopping malls, including the award-winning leisure development, Crossrail Place, housing one of London’s most stunning roof gardens.  It also has world-class, year-round arts and events programme offering over 200 diverse and culturally inspiring events performed throughout the Estate.

Canary Wharf Group is a wholly owned joint venture between Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Twitter: @CanaryWharfGrp
Twitter: @YourCanaryWharf
Twitter: @Level39CW
Instagram: @canarywharflondon


About Land Securities 

Land Securities is the UK’s largest listed commercial real estate company. Our £14.4 billion portfolio totals 23.6 million sq ft and includes some of London’s most desirable office buildings and the UK’s most successful shopping and leisure destinations.

In London, we own and manage a portfolio totalling more than £8.2 billion.  Our relentless customer focus delivers vibrant working environments, both in our developments and through thoughtful asset management, which resonate strongly with businesses looking to attract and retain top talent. 

In Retail, our commitment to creating an outstanding consumer experience, combined with the strength and resilience of our 17.5 million sq ft of assets, means we provide the space where consumers want to shop and retailers want to be, both now and in the future. 

Whether in offices or retail, sustainability is key to everything we do.  For us, being a sustainable business means ensuring Land Securities remains healthy and successful for years to come. 

Land Securities delivers value for our shareholders, great space for our customers and positive change for our communities.

About Marks & Spencer

Founded in 1884, M&S has grown from a single market stall to an international, multi-channel retailer selling innovative food and quality clothing to 32 million customers through over 900 UK stores and M& To find out more visit   

Published: 05/01/2017

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