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Co-op chief: BREEAM buildings will be worth more

Co-operative Group NOMA property boss David Pringle told AJ100 practices in Manchester this week that the UK should invest in green technology to ‘future proof the investment value of our buildings’

The remarks by the Co-operative Group’s former director of investment and property strategy came at the end of presentation detailing the company’s 370,000m² NOMA redevelopment scheme for an 8 hectare area in Manchester city centre, of which Pringle is now director.

Discussing UK architects’ ability to deliver high levels of sustainability on new developments, Pringle criticised a lack of technological innovation over the past ten years and said: ‘Generally in the UK we need to start investing more in innovation.’

He added: ‘We need to future proof the investment value of our buildings. I don’t think it will become long before BREEAM outstanding starts to show a price point comparison.’

In April, the Co-operative Group appointed Mecanoo to work on NOMA’s public realm. 3DReid is delivering a £100 million new headquarters building for the company which will sit within the NOMA masterplan and Aedas and Ian Simpson have also been selected to work on the redevelopment.

Pringle said he was keen to achieve a ‘diversity of architecture’ within the scheme and was keen to work with young practices.

Pringle also told AJ100 practices in Manchester this week that the economic downturn could last another three years. Commenting on the UK economy, he said: ‘We’re a good two to three years off any silver lining.’

He added: ‘Trying to get development finance is going to be impossible unless you are at least 70 per cent pre-let.’

The high-profile client’s comments came as it emerged Austin Smith Lord had entered company voluntary arrangement after being owed more than £12 million and the Bank of England slashed its growth forecast for 2011 and 2012.

Two weeks ago BDP - the UK’s largest architectural practice - announced it would close four of its offices.

The AJ100 lunch meeting is an event for executive staff from practices ranked in the AJ100, a survey of the largest architectural practices in the UK ranked by number of architects employed.

The next AJ100 event will be on 1 December in London.

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