London Plan: your guide to the new ‘Be Seen’ mandate

Darren Evans
September 7, 2020

Lost revenue is one consequence of failure. Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

The updated London Plan will introduce a new ‘Be Seen’ mandate. Here’s a run-down of how that will shake up energy efficiency requirements.Lost revenue is one consequence of failure. Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

At the heart of current energy efficiency requirements, there’s a dark secret. You may know it as the ‘performance gap’. If you don’t, this so-called performance gap refers to the difference between estimated and real energy and carbon performance.

Twenty-four London boroughs have committed to reaching net zero carbon by 2030. But if the performance gap of major development projects is too great, that target will take far longer to achieve.

As such, closing the performance gap is not a challenge the Office of the London Mayor wants to shy away from. The good news is they’ve proposed a promising step towards solving the problem. The bad news is it’s currently buried away in a new draft of the London Plan – the spatial development strategy for the Greater London Area.

What are the current policies?

Energy strategies for major development in London are guided by Chapter 5 of the London Plan. The relevant policies are:

If you need help finding and understanding the parts of the policies that affect your business, get in touch.

Find out how to navigate current energy efficiency requirements.

Introducing the ‘Be Seen’ Mandate

You may be familiar with the Be Lean, Be Clean, Be Green mandate in the energy hierarchy. Now, there’s a fourth section: ‘Be Seen’:

  1. Be Lean. Use less energy and manage demand during operation
  2. Be Clean. Exploit local energy resources and supply energy efficiently and cleanly
  3. Be Green. Maximise opportunities for renewable energy
  4. Be Seen. Monitor, verify and report on energy performance

This new ‘Be Seen’ mandate is a refreshing development in whole life-cycle thinking. It’s also one we suspect will soon spread to other parts of the UK.

However, it does create new requirements that all parties in the value chain should be aware of. The Mayor’s Office planned to release the revised London Plan in March 2020, but had to delay publication.

What does ‘Be Seen’ actually mean?

The new mandate introduces post-occupancy monitoring. That means whole life-cycle energy performance will need to be monitored, verified and reported. This will be done via an online portal following completion of the development.

Details on the portal are yet to emerge, but we’ll be watching out for them when they arrive.

Sign up for email updates on the new ‘Be Seen’ online portal using the thrive in construction box at the bottom of this article.

Who needs to know about it?

Laying the right foundations for effective monitoring, reporting and verification is important. That means everyone in the development chain will need to understand their role. This includes:

  • Pre-contract managers
  • Design managers
  • Architects
  • M&E consultants
  • Site managers
  • Occupiers

The building owner may well be responsible for monitoring and reporting. All parties involved in the design and build will therefore need to support those efforts.

The consequences of failure

Rightly or wrongly, architects, M&E consultants, design managers and contractors are all implicated when building requirements are missed. At present, there’s no suggestion failure to follow the new requirements will be punished but there are other consequences:

  • Failed planning permission applications in many London Boroughs
  • Damaged client/contractor relationships
  • Lost revenue on design and build projects

“Retro-fitting a solution carries dangers,” says Michael Brogden, operations director at Darren Evans

“Addressing monitoring requirements late in the design process may mean decentralised rather than centralised monitoring systems come into play. That makes the monitoring process more labour-intensive, less accurate and, ultimately, more costly.”

Looking beyond London

If you’re working outside of London, you may wonder how this affects you.

Typically, we’ve seen similar progressive moves in London have a ripple effect.

“Once the requirements are seen to work, this could soon be commonplace across the UK,” Michael notes.

Finding the new energy efficiency requirements

The changes build on existing policies but their position in the new draft London Plan has moved.

You will find the new policies in Chapter 9 of the revised London Plan, rather than Chapter 5. The changes should strengthen standards and address the longer term impacts of development.

Strategies for successful compliance

Soon then, major developments will need to embed steps that support the ‘Be Seen’ mandate. That goes for all relevant planning and development processes.

…and that’s where Darren Evans can help.

We believe the construction industry must move towards a net zero carbon future if the planet and its global population are to thrive.

Our mission is to support the industry  in reaching the net zero carbon goal by helping businesses navigate new policies, embed solutions early, and simplify your planning application. In turn, you can be confident your development will transition smoothly through the planning process and building regulations.

“If your time, effort and energy are best placed elsewhere, we’ll do the hard work,” Michael says.

“You don’t need to understand every detail of the new requirements with our team on hand to help.”

The most cost-effective solutions need to be considered before construction has started, so if you’re about to start the design phase of a new major development, we’re here to help.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’d like some support.


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