Category: News

14 Aug 2023




By Matt Schaaf, Partner in Commercial Project Management at 3PM

Michael Gove’s recent decision to reject the redevelopment of the M&S site on Oxford Street has elevated the ongoing question of whether to demolish or refurbish existing buildings into arguably the highest profile case of its kind.

Supported by the likes of the 20th Century Society and SAVE, the case set a precedent by being the first of its kind – the first public inquiry that considered sustainability alongside heritage as a major deciding issue.


In the case of M&S, the decision hinged on Gove’s view that the development hadn’t sufficiently demonstrated that a refurbishment option wasn’t viable and that a full development scheme would produce less carbon in the future as green energy will be more readily available. 


The first point is a clear indication that developer’s and design teams will always need a robust process to review options to refurbish a building, before turning to new build options moving forward.  This can be done by examining the Minimum Viable Product a developer needs to be able to let a building and then looking for ways to add area, rationalise floor plates and refresh finishes to add value.  Not only will this help to reduce embodied carbon, but it has the potential to reduce the cost to the client and reduce time to market.


The second point lies at the heart of many refurbishment schemes.  When does the embodied carbon of a new build balance against the operational carbon of an in theory less efficient refurbishment?  Our understanding of carbon modelling as an approach is still in its infancy – many feel the science is new and the data not good enough but it’s 2023 and the concept of reducing the amount of embodied carbon now on the basis we will improve green technology in the future should be a sound one if the Government continues to invest in it.


How we assess the balance of embodied versus operational carbon will evolve moving forward: it has to! Whole life considerations need to be undertaken based on clear replacement cycles.The design life of different building elements are enshrined in British Standards but haven’t been revisited in the context of sustainability, which makes them archaic to say the least.  Why is the design life of a structure 60 years when the Tower of London has stood for almost 1,000?  Lengthening these periods would shift the balance between embodied and operational carbon, a key factor in deciding whether to rebuild or refurbish.


One of the criticisms of the Levelling Up Secretary’s decision is the economic impact it will have.  One of the key challenges in refurbishing existing buildings is a supply chain which is set up to carry out new build projects and views refurbishment schemes with caution.  There is huge potential for the UK to promote economic growth by developing new industries aligned to sustainable development and it’s crucial that both public and private bodies support this.

We recently worked as part of an extended team that agreed to forgo an existing planning permission for demolition and rebuild of a fairly high-profile central London office building and instead retrofit. The decision was the right one – not just environmentally – but economically too: we delivered a project that will be low carbon, saving two blue whales worth of embodied carbon while also saving six months on the build programme, delivered 2,000 sq ft extra NIA and a £10m capital cost saving.

It can be done, and it should be.

My personal view is that we need to respect our heritage buildings and give them a new lease of life wherever possible – they’ve earned their right to survive with their sound original fabric and structure, remarkably built without the benefits of technology and knowledge we have today. The least we can do is apply the latter towards keeping them and working with what has survived longer than any of us! It won’t always be possible, but the approach should be retrofit first (rather than retrofit only).


The merits of the individual case of M&S will continue to be debated. What is certain is that project teams will have to make an extremely robust case to gain planning approval for a new build option from now on and this is absolutely crucial if we are to change the mindset of ‘it’s too difficult’ to ‘we can do this’. And that is a very promising and possible outcome from all of this.


06 Aug 2023


As people all over the UK basked in the glory of the June heatwave, few would have been thinking about the impact on buildings – both new and heritage alike.

Then came more serious incidences across Europe, where focus understandably turned to the wildfires and health concerns associated with the soaring temperatures.

As Project Managers striving to build, future proof and retrofit sustainable buildings, ‘heat’ is a topic that occupies our thought processes rather disproportionately.

Today, there’s just no reason for not considering climate change – not just in terms of the impact of construction and operation of a building on the environment – but the impact of climate change on the building.

The recent high temperatures (whilst positive for those on the beach) are just a reality of our collective future. We have already exceeded the 1.5deg rise and global warming is only increasing, yet capital projects are still being developed without this fact being recognised.

Inadequate benchmarks and limited exposure to progressive fabric first, low carbon, practical strategies within the design world are holding us back. As project managers with significant expertise and experience in sustainability, we know that energy savings of up to 90% are perfectly achievable. We have also proven e/o costs can be delivered well within a normal design development allowance. While air conditioning may give an immediate respite (for buildings and people), burning coal to provide the power required is just illogical.

So why hasn’t this knowledge reached the design or strategy phase of a building project yet?

Why do commercial developers, Higher Education institutions and other stakeholders in the build environment – AND their project teams – still appear so reluctant to change and develop facilities that will actually be fit for the next decade, to weather the weather and deliver a more sustainable option for those interacting with their buildings?

There are any number of reasons that we could point to but in 2023, these don’t carry much weight. A simple solution for all of this is to bring in the sustainability experts from stage one – vision. This will enable knowledge sharing for designers, planners and all other partners in the extended team. It also builds in ‘live data’ from the start of the process, making it ultimately easier to measure, benchmark, report and share best practice. This would be a real step change for all rather than bemoaning data that is readily accessible for designers but decreases in relevance day by day.

The earlier the better. The later the more expensive, complex and risk prone the project will be.

So next time the barometer hits the late 20s – and apparently that will be soon – remember that the increase in severity and frequency of our ‘heatwaves’ is a visible reminder of climate change. And, it should also be a reminder that we should be acting now, bringing in the experts in sustainability from day one to lead the brief, support the design and drag the naysayers into the 21st century.


27 Jun 2023

I set foot at Footprint+ to see who else was walking the talk

I set foot at Footprint+ to see who else was walking the talk

by Rana Rehman, Project Manager and Sustainability Expert at 3PM


I was eager to attend the recent Footprint+ conference to share knowledge and discuss ways to accelerate the built environment’s
emphasis on net zero, amongst other things.

I found a number of likeminded people who were there, like me, to discuss innovative approaches on incentivising the circular
economy and cradle-to-cradle practices. What’s more, these experts were there to collaborate and share best practice and lesson learned.

However, there were also delegates that needed to do a lot more in this area in order to actually put their money where their mouths
were, particularly when it came to retrofitting.  There were a lot of ‘cannot’s not as many ‘can do’s which was a little disappointing.

For businesses in the built environment that are starting their net zero journey, there are two crucial principals that are central to
success. Firstly, you must foster an environment where stakeholders demonstrate openness and enthusiasm for sustainable practices.
Mindset is one of the biggest obstacles in this entire space and so culture needs to support and nurture people to where we want to get to.

The second principal is the attitude and agility of designers who play a vital role in driving sustainability. By focussing in on design,
we can encourage designers to adopt a proactive and adaptable mindset which could lead to innovative and sustainable solutions.

These principals are supported by putting in place performance-based design over prescriptive measures; and encouraging a
streamlined approvals process and a proactive approach to risk assessment in order to facilitate the implementation of sustainable

Over the coming months I’ll be exploring other thought-provoking points on this subject – many of which were raised at the
conference but not so many answered concisely. Partly because we don’t have the answers yet, and partly because there weren’t
enough can do’s across the industry.

I’ll be addressing the importance of wellbeing and absenteeism in sustainable building design, especially in commercial buildings;
the use of sustainable plant and machinery on construction sites, the debate between pushing circular economy in a project brief
rather than a brief targeting low embodied carbon, discussing the fact that designers often rely on supply chain knowledge that
may already be two years old; exploring the concept of materials such as appreciating assets; asking how early is too early to engage
with a supply chain in a project; and why and when you could and should challenge any brief if there’s more that can be done.

15 Nov 2021

So, was it a #COP in or #COP out…?


So, was it a #COP in or #COP out…?

by Patrick Watson

Our key takeaways from COP26

There have been strong reactions to the 10-page pact following the sessions at #COP26, whilst this is a step in the right direction and the directive regarding a reduction in Coal Power use, the World leaders need to do more. Sir David Attenborough and a host of great names cannot be wrong. In our little world of the build environment, we must do the same, no longer can we just support “blah, blah, blah”.

In our experiences as a Project Manager whilst we need the components of a strong clear vision, unless this is followed through such statements can become meaningless. Our practical experiences gained over almost a decade of #NetZero delivery has shown that it is teamwork and a truly collaborative effort that will ensure teams can deliver.

It was not long ago that BREEAM Excellent was an aspiring target, it is increasingly becoming the accepted norm. Passivhaus is gaining in awareness with many clients adopting “Passive principles” a recognition perhaps that a fabric first approach coupled with a focus on the optimisation of the heating and cooling parameters are the obvious ways forward.

With the complex arena of targets and guidance it remains clear that standing still is just not acceptable, we must as project leaders & facilitators hold the space for our teams to excel. We are proud that two of our exemplar schemes were showcased covering the challenges of both New Build & Retro-fit.

On a recent commercial scheme, we have been able to significantly increase the sustainability credentials of the scheme, simply by challenging the team, supported by our client and in the firm view that this is not a bolt-on or an extra to be covered off by some nebulous premium applied by our commercial colleagues. Time will tell but by applying clear and simple logic, improvements can be made within constrained budgets.

It is no longer acceptable to carry on as normal. #NetZero is a way of life, it must become the new normal, and all designs must be adjusted to take account of this change. Adopting the LETI targets and guidance, coupled with a collaborative approach ensuring the fabric first philosophy does achieve both Embodies & Operational Carbon savings and removes any over engineered facilities.

If you are lost by the jargon and simply do not know how or where to start, experienced Project Leadership is what is needed, contact us, and see how we can drive your schemes to meet your sustainable aspirations. Don’t #COP out…. Make a difference.

21 Jul 2021

NetZero Week: Our Routemap

Netzero Routemap

NetZero Week: Our Routemap

by Patrick Watson

As part of NetZero Week, 3PM are publishing a series of microblogs highlighting what we are doing to help stop climate change.

Our Routemap

Lots of discussions over the techniques, but little advancements being offered in the approach to delivery. Our unique route map has been proven on our exemplar low carbon projects and provides a clear guide for our clients to achieve successful delivery of the UK GBC 2030 / 2050 targets.

In the drive to creating a low carbon future and making life better for everyone, we have been challenging our project teams to come up with innovative solutions. Some of our successes in solving these complex issues on our projects include:

  • 170+ tons of CO2e saved in RIBA Stage 4
  • Specified recycled paints
  • Promoted modal shift by smart IT tracking of trip generations
  • Sponsored timber challenge for UK based modularised timber solutions
  • Push for the adoption of the WELL standard
  • Developed sitewide PV array
  • Set the standard for sustainable business park design
  • Secured a step change in building performance by adopting Passivhaus / EnerPHit
  • Shared knowledge both internally and externally
20 Jul 2021

NetZero Week: Project Managers Declare

Project Managers Declare feed

NetZero Week: Project Managers Declare

by Patrick Watson

As part of NetZero Week, 3PM are publishing a series of microblogs highlighting what we are doing to help stop climate change.

Project Managers Declare

As signatories to #ConstructionDeclares, we have made a public declaration of the environmental crises and a commitment to take positive action in response to climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse. As part of this we are already challenging our project teams to reduce both operational & embodied carbon on our schemes.  We are sharing our experiences and actively engaging in the debate.  Recent schemes have been praised for their potential to set the trend. We must all make a stand to ensure we make better places for everyone.


14 Jul 2021

UK Life Sciences Vision

Pages from life-sciences-vision

UK Life Sciences Vision

by James Buckley-Walker

Last week, the UK government published the new UK Life Sciences Vision, a 10-year strategy developed in collaboration with industry and academia, that sets out a blueprint for the future of science and healthcare in the UK. This strategy establishes a holistic mission to solve some of the greatest healthcare challenges our society will face in the future and following the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Click here to read the UK Life Sciences Vision.

At the core of this vision is collaboration; with regulators, industry, the NHS, academia and medical research charities, focusing on the 7 critical healthcare missions of preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and treating diseases. The future of patients, research and the economy depend on engendering innovation across the entire science and health ecosystem through investment in academic research and development, manufacture and supply, as well as the delivery of new technologies and medicines to the public.

Building on the UK’s science and research infrastructure and harnessing our unique genomic and health data, the industry aims to make the UK the world’s leader in trialling and testing of new technologies to tackle critical healthcare challenges, especially within areas of lower socio-economic status.

Central to this is unlocking the potential of the UK’s health data to create the most advanced and integrated healthcare ecosystem in the world, building on the country’s strong history in genomics and using research assets to drive the next generation of discoveries.

We have recently been working with our own industry collaborators to map the future of data, from its collection, dissemination, computation into AI and machine learning, with the understanding that data will be at the core of the life sciences vision to accelerate the speed to market into measurable healthcare benefits where it is most needed. You can find more information on this in our Digital solutions driving life science property needs article in Savills’ publication Life Sciences: Trends & Outlook – January 2021. 

3PM is proud to currently be working with over 20 of the collaborators to this pioneering strategy, which aligns with our own company vision to “solve complex problems and provide solutions to make life better for everyone”. We are excited to play our part in the positive impact science & health will make to the future of the UK and the world.

08 Jul 2020

NetZero/Embodied Carbon Metrics – a contractual deliverable?

NetZero/Embodied Carbon Metrics – a contractual deliverable?

by 3PM

Post lockdown, the industry is becoming more conscious of its environmental impact and is grasping the challenges of achieving NetZero.

Recently a lot of discussion has taken place regarding engineered solutions and the challenges of quantifying embodied carbon, given as yet the sector has not settled on an appropriate methodology.
Recent conversations have covered the ability and desire to quantify embodied carbon, as either a project KPI for early stage options evaluation, or as a contracted hard metric. The Enterprise Centre, our innovative scheme delivered for University of East Anglia tackled these challenges head on, and since then we have consolidated our knowledge and the approach that we now employ on our schemes in support of the 3PM NetZero route map.
Our top success factors include:

  • Firstly, above all else you need a desire to achieve, practiced by a strong & principled lead.
  • Secondly, you need a defined methodology, for example ECCOlab gets our vote as we know the output has been validated.
  • A collaborative and open approach by the whole team to raise the bar; accepted norms of process or approach need re-evaluation; tweaking is not enough!
  • A way of monitoring team efforts, perception based to align the teams focus & intent.
  • Defined quantitative metrics and established evaluation criteria to maintain the focus, i.e. BREEAM Outstanding, WELL etc.
  • Balance the science with the common sense, TM54 may be a great methodology but it’s a reactive tool and planned vs actual alignment is not always proven. Energy must be balanced with comfort. Appropriate material selection is the key, especially as some 70% of emissions are driven by the frame & envelope.
  • Innovation is not a dirty word, embrace challenge, stretch the boundaries, don’t accept the first answers.
  • Define the risks and seek clear mitigation, document the intent.


It is clear that this is an area of expertise that needs to evolve rapidly in a post COVID-19 world. We cannot arrive at a new normal by doing the same things. 3PM are proud to sign up to #ProjectManagersDeclare and have the proven expertise to show just how the above list can be achieved.

Contact Patrick Watson if you are interested to know more.

11 Jun 2020

Dealing with Extension of Time Assessments in a COVID-19 World

Dealing with Extension of Time Assessments in a COVID-19 World

by 3PM


Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is still having a sustained impact on our lives in general, the UK construction and property industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19.

Many contractors, either through choice or necessity have decided to shutdown sites temporarily and then re-open having implemented additional COVID-19 related working practice and operational procedures.

The programme and cost impact of these site shutdowns and reduced productivity on construction projects when they re-start are inevitable.  Although consultants and legal practitioners are reviewing the implications of this unprecedented situation, there is not a common and pragmatic approach yet available to assess the contractual and legal issues.

We at 3PM have developed a way through the confusion of COVID-19 and the assessment of any extension of time (EOT) claim in a responsible and fair manner.  Here we explore:

  • The top 3 issues we have encountered
  • How we are dealing with it within a COVID-19 world
  • How to get in touch if your require further information


Top 3 Issues









The 3PM Way









Through the Covid-19 related EOT solutions we have developed and been providing to our clients, we believe that there exists genuine needs from both client and contractor’s senior management/board to follow non-dispute route and find a collaborative approach for settlement and indeed a justifiable case report to back up the solution, which can be provided by a professional advisor like 3PM.

We can provide an in house independent team to carry out an EOT assessment as a 3rd party validation exercise and produce a case report as required, in a fixed fee subject to specific client requirements.

For further information, contact us at:

1 Oliver’s Yard, 55-71 City Road
London, EC1Y 1HQ
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3818 8910

08 Jun 2020

David Bird

David Bird

by 3PM

3PM would like to announce the retirement of David Bird from the 3PM partnership with effect from 31 May 2020.  David was a founding Member of 3PM established in 2012 and has been a solid role model for us all bringing depth of character, knowledge and experience to help us create the successful business it is today. 


3PM is about its people, the diversity and the blend of experience they bring, and the ethos and values we all share together.  David’s influence on our brand and organisation has been from a place of grand experience and we are grateful that David will still be involved with us in providing professional counsel and support whilst also exploring other ventures. 


David leaves the partnership in great shape.  The remaining partners and staff of 3PM continue the business with unparalleled strengths to address the current challenges and opportunities, with agility to respond to the changing environment to meet our growth potential.


We would like to take this opportunity to wish David and his family well for the future and to thank him for all he has done for 3PM in helping us establish the foundations for future success.  We will miss David in our weekly team huddles and team away days!