Category: Press

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.


14 Aug 2023



By Rana Rehman, Senior Project Manager at 3PM


Cost of materials, supply chain challenges, complicated design, lack of data, a lengthy planning process and heritage constraints are just some of the reasons given for favouring new construction projects over retrofitting ones.

The list of problems is long but the main thing holding us back from #Net Zero trumps all others – mindset. And that matters.

Data is a good example. At a recent event I listened to a discussion whereby those partaking were bemoaning the lack of data that means they cannot benchmark or use existing data to showcase what can be done, or that the information designers have today is already two years old and therefore not live – because live information most often only comes in once the development is post construction, in RIBA stages 4-6. This raised the question of when the live information should be tied to the project – at what point on its timeline is best?

There’s an easy answer to this. RIBA Stage 1. The earlier the focus on net zero with any project the better, but especially when retrofitting. The building is already largely built – we are already working backwards so the earlier we factor in ESG the better.

We, as stakeholders in the future of our built environment, all must agree to plug the massive knowledge gaps across the industry, not accept them. And this requires a change of mindset from day one.

If sustainability focussed PMs and designers are brought in at concept stage there is simply no reason not to retrofit and reach net zero. It can still be done later, it’s just harder.

The experts start with embodied carbon, looking at passive principles, the circular economy – yes steel can be recycled, stored and reused – and biobased materials. Operational carbon also should be factored in early to predict and control live data. This stage includes designing and planning in the maximisation of efficiency and reduction in energy, the practice of energy harvesting and use of renewables. Finally, we move towards energy storage and, as an absolutely last resort, offsetting which together take us to net zero and eventually the panacea of absolute zero.

At 3PM, we work with our own mindset route map which factors in these various stages to win over the 100s of reasons why a retrofit to net zero can’t be done, focussing instead on how to cut through and deliver the lowest carbon intervention. This can be applied to every building, no matter how heritage – to restore, retrofit and future proof.

This has seen us through the decarbonisation and degassing of some of the most heritage and oldest Universities in the UK so there’s absolutely no reason it can’t be applied to a post war office buildings.

After all, if a building has lasted hundreds of years, why shouldn’t we commit to giving it a new lease of life?


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.


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.


19 Jul 2021

NetZero Week: UEA The Enterprise Centre

north wing from courtyard

NetZero Week: UEA The Enterprise Centre

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.

University of East Anglia – The Enterprise Centre

Delivered by the 3PM team, with over 35 awards including BCO “Best of the best” demonstrating a track record in both innovation & sustainable delivery. The building has completed an intensive 4-year post PC monitoring, consistently achieving DEC A rating and a significant drop in maintenance visits, demonstrably best in class, low carbon delivery in action.

Read more in our project case study.

16 Feb 2021

The Twickenham Story

The Twickenham Story

by 3PM

When 3PM started, one of our first projects was to manage a programme of works for the Rugby Football Union. We had the fantastic opportunity to work with a great team of stadium designers like KSS architects to get Twickenham Stadium ready for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

A truly complex project environment of interrelated projects that needed to remain operational throughout the works, including pitch replacement, new players’ facilities, members’ lounge in the west stand, seating replacements, refurbishment of the hospitality boxes and west stand restaurant, new digital signage throughout and a complete replacement of the stadium’s MEP infrastructure.

This programme was one of the most challenging and rewarding schemes our team has been a part of, enabling us to prove the right way to govern a programme of works and leading to many more successful commissions for 3PM in programme management.

If you want to know more about our RFU projects, please click here.


24 Oct 2019

Rough Runner for Demelza House

Rough Runner for Demelza House Charity

by 3PM

Earlier this month, the 3PM team channelled their inner Gladiators, donning their trainers to participate in the 5km Rough Runner, to raise money for Demelza House, a children’s charity close to our hearts. Inspired by physically demanding TV game shows such as Total Wipeout and Ninja Warrior, the mud filled assault course saw the team clamber over obstacles, leap across pools of muddy water and run, jump and dodge their way out of moving targets. All whilst getting covered head-to-toe in thick mud and raising money for an excellent cause!

The 3PM team are proud to have raised an amazing £1250.41 for the charity- a massive 185% of our original target! This money will help fund vital care and support for children with serious and terminal conditions.

Demelza House believe that every child and young person who has a terminal condition should receive the care and attention they need to live the most fulfilling life they can, and that the children and their families should have the opportunity to build memories, for however long they have together. The charity provides tailored, personalised programmes of care for babies, children, young people and their families across South East London, Kent and East Sussex, providing support at home, in the community and at their two hospices.

We had a great day participating in the Rough Runner and there was an amazing sense of camaraderie within the team – well done to everyone who participated! A massive thank you to everyone who sponsored us, your donations will help fund exceptional care for children with complex medical needs. If you would like to donate to Demelza House, please do so via our fundraising page.

Keep your eyes on our news page for more of our charity events!

01 May 2018

CGT Catapult Manufacturing centre opening!

CGT Catapult manufacturing centre opening!

by Rob Burborough

3PM are very proud to be involved in this significant game changing science project. It is the first in the world of its kind and will significantly change the landscape for Cell and Gene therapy in the future across the globe. 

We were commissioned to  Project Manage and Contract Administer this complex GMP compliant collaborative cleanroom facility from inception through to completion and into operational readiness on.

We were trusted advisors to the CGT leadership team and provided a full turnkey Project and Cost Management service with our design team partners. The success of this Innovate UK funded industry recognised project for CGT is due to the cohesion of this turnkey offer.

The grand opening  took place in Stevenage last week and was attended by over 100 guests from academia and science industry, including the Business Secretary Greg Clark and Science Minister Sam Gyimah.

For more details on the project, you can view our project profile here . If you would like to find out more, you can see CGT press release here.

28 Feb 2018

University of East Anglia Case Study

University of East Anglia Case Study

by 3PM

3PM recently collaborated with Resolex, Richard Bayfield & John French at the University of East Anglia to produce the attached Case Study.  This shows our innovative approach to the management of risk & gives demonstrable evidence of the techniques success.

“Research from the University of East Anglia shows how earlier identification of risks can save time and money on projects…”


Click to the links below to read the full articles.

05 Feb 2018

APM – Contracts and Procurement

APM - Procurement Strategy

by 3PM

At 3PM our team members are actively involved in the wider construction and property industry; including representations on expert panels, sitting on industry committees and holding volunteer positions within varied organisations. These roles contribute our combined wealth of experience to the industry knowledge pool, as well as providing the benefit of experience gained from these forums back into our business for the development of the 3PM Team.

3PM Partner James Buckley-Walker is a Committee Member and Secretary of the APM’s Contracts & Procurement Special Interest Group (SIG), who represent a wide group of APM members from many industries and sectors coming together to share their knowledge and experience in the world of procurement and contracting.

The SIG recently released their Guide to Contracts & Procurement, which is the APM’s bible for all you need to know to set up your project for success. The Guide covers all the key stages throughout the project life cycle from concept and feasibility stage; devising the project procurement strategy and contracting strategies; selection of providers, preparing, awarding & managing the contract; and through to contract closure, operations and support.

At the launch event of the Guide last July, James presented the Project Procurement Strategy chapter, where he discusses the considerations of how to break a project down into different contract packages, determining the nature of the relationship sought with the Provider, which in turn forms the starting point for how you select the Provider, and then further outlines contracting strategies including allocation of risk & reward and obligations for each package.

This chapter is the third video released from the launch event, of which more chapter presentations will be progressively released over the year.

You can watch the video on the link below.