National law firm TLT is relocating its Manchester office next summer to a net-zero office building with Europe’s “biggest green wall”.
According to developers of the £36m, 12-floor Eden building in Salford, the green wall will have over 350,000 plants, along with bird boxes and “bug hotels”.
The 43,000 sq ft “living facade” has been designed to remove air pollutants including carbon, reduce urban temperatures, and deliver “a 174% net gain in the biodiversity of the area”.
TLT partner and location head Graeme Orchison said Eden would be one of the first carbon neutral office buildings in England and help the law firm become carbon neutral by its target date of 2025.
The 180-plus staff at TLT’s existing Manchester office in Spinningfields were aware of the move this time last year of the firm’s Glasgow office to the net-zero Cadworks building.
Like Cadworks, the first net-zero building in Glasgow and one of the most sustainable in the UK, Eden will have energy-efficient lifts and operate entirely on renewable electricity.
Eden will also have air source heat pumps, demand-controlled ventilation and “rainwater harvesting” for its green wall. It has been designed using the UK Green Building Council’s 2035-2050 standards.
The building should be completed by May 2023. Mr Orchison said TLT was aiming to move into the top two floors a few months after.
He said the firm’s Manchester office had “grown exponentially” since he founded it with three other partners in 2013. Revenue for the firm as a whole hit £144m in the financial year 2021-22, exceeding the target set for 2025.
Mr Orchison said using technology to drive costs down and achieving “market-leading sustainability” were goals the firm had set itself in 2021. Clean energy was one of the firm’s “key sectors” and client expectations “tie in with what the firm is doing anyway for its own people”.
“One of the few benefits” of Covid was flexible working and TLT believed in a “fully flexible working environment”.
The new office would be able to accommodate everyone, using hot desking, although in practice it would rarely be fully occupied. However, he expected an increase in office working to “happen naturally” because it was “such a nice space”.
Mr Orchison said he expected Eden to be a “massive help” in recruitment, where the market was very challenging and lawyers had serious concerns about sustainability, which might not have been the case 20 years ago. “Eden is a massive plus in showing we are serious about it.”
He said offices had a “significant” role in the firm’s aim to become carbon neutral. “It’s a hard ask, but it is what we are trying to do.”
Mr Orchison said work on the Eden building had now reached the point where the green wall could begin to be fitted. The first tenants are due to move in this summer.
Eden is being built by the English Cities Fund, a joint venture between developer Muse, Legal & General and Homes England.