Green canvas: can the arts survive without oil money?

London-based artist ATM's paintings highlight rare and endangered British birds

London-based artist ATM’s paintings highlight rare and endangered British birds

Art and money have always been uneasy bedfellows.  The fact is that without the money and patronage of the private sector, very little art would be free (or cheap) to view by the general public. On balance, it matters more that people can see and engage with art, it is one of the catalysts for social change and awareness but it also matters where that money comes from.

The reality is that much of our public art is funded by corporations who are out of step with the growing ethical and social awareness that our actions on this planet count for more than just profit and that we have a responsibility to future generations to put the planet on a more sustainable footing. However, future generations will not see this ethical discomfort reflected in our mainstream art while companies that would be uncomfortable with that worldview are the dominant sources of funding. That is not to say that art is ignoring these issues, just that the blockbuster exhibitions and high profile events, which rely on significant patronage to occur will not reflect these views. Companies are not funding the arts out of altruism; they want to associate their brands with a positive message, how else could they justify that expenditure to their shareholders?

To some, such as Liberate Tate, Platform and Art not Oil, the fossil fuel industry simply has no place in the arts. Thanks to their persistence, in January this year the Tate was forced to release17 years of historic figures, which showed that BP gave sums of £150,000 to £330,000 between 1990 and 2006, an average of £245,000 a year, and a total of £3.8m. The Tate is just one example of many, but it demonstrates the inextricable links between oil and art with the UK’s most reputable gallery claiming that this support will be ‘reviewed’ in 2016. A thorough picture of this relationship is covered in Mel Evans’ new book Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts.

It will take more than protest and activism however.  Public art still needs money.  It is unlikely that the State will step in (and that has its own moral dilemmas) so what is the solution to allowing more of the public to see more art which makes us think about the relationship between humans and nature?

One such initiative is Human Nature, which was founded by artist and campaign communications guru,

Street artist and sculptur Jonesy's work explores Man’s relationship with the natural world.

Street artist and sculptur Jonesy’s work explores Man’s relationship with the natural world.

Charlotte Webster. It’s a collective of artists from street artists to photographers, sculptors and painters all united in exploring our changing relationship to the environment. Their first show was a real success and they are now well on the way to establishing the UK’s first dedicated platform for environmental art. Abundance was the founding ‘funder’ for the project, alongside contributions from other ethical brands and the aim is to make the project self sustaining through a mix of grant and sponsorship money – as well from the sale of the art itself.

Human Nature’s artists span decades of experience, mediums and characters. But they are united in a deep appreciation of the natural world. From one of the UK’s leading landscape photographers, Harry Cory Wright, to secretive street artist Jonesy and sculptor Lesley Hilling, we’re now a growing collective of 25 artists with daily requests to join, attracting attention from the US to Poland and Singapore. Motivated by strong values and an ability to facilitate change, there’s a growing groundswell of artists wanting to be heard in the debate.

Human Nature is on a tour of the UK this year, in Leeds at The Gallery at Munro House from Thursday 23 April – Saturday 2 May; at Centrespace in Bristol 16 – 30 July and in London in October. For more information see

So there we have it, new finance and new energy funding an emerging new wave of challenging and original art.  Maybe we don’t need oil money after all?

Building sustainability: three ways to drive value in property through collaboration

09-green-roof-phot-t-pikulaThe latest survey from CBRE, 2015 EMEA Investor Intentions Survey, highlights the effects of occupier corporate social responsibility, investment risk, and regulations in terms of sustainability and property. These three factors bring commonly antagonistic characters – the occupier and the landlord – together through the buzzword of 2015, collaboration.

“It’s a perfect green storm in many ways. Regulation driven by the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, including Minimum Energy Performance Standards, is now front of mind for owners. Occupiers want to be located in buildings with sustainable features to attract and retain talent, and investors don’t want to fall foul of regulation and take a financial hit if buildings are obsolete.” Rebecca Pearce, EMEA Head of Sustainability, at CBRE, says. 

This ideal collaboration can be a difficult point to reach, which makes us ask:

Are we working efficiently within these efficiently designed buildings?

From the CBRE survey, it is clear that property value is driven by energy efficiency and sustainability.

‘70 per cent of respondents in CBRE’s 2015 EMEA Investor Intentions Survey stated that sustainability is either ‘critical’, ‘one of the most important criteria’, or ‘definitely matters’ in the asset selection process.’ CBRE

Furthermore, with increasing regulations on energy, ESOS, EPC, CRC (see our guide) as well as updates to current regulations such as Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards changing in 2018 and 2023 it will be necessary for the tenants and landlords to work together to comply.

Here are three three ways to help create a culture of collaboration to deliver increased value in every property.

1.Increasing transparency of information

Better Buildings Partnership worked with landlord and occupier at Hollywood House, Working to improve their energy efficiency through a ‘green’ lease.

“Integrating sustainability into the refurbishment of Hollywood House enabled us to secure a pre-let of 1,574m2 to Skanska, an occupier with a strong covenant and a strong commitment to sustainability, on a ten-year lease.” Nina Reid, Director of Responsible Property Investment M&G Real Estate.

The lease, combined with a building refurbishment resulted in a 55 per cent reduction in carbon emissions, 45 per cent in energy and 55 per cent in water.

The ‘green’ lease included a clause stating that the occupier and the landlord were responsible for improving and managing the energy performance of the building. In the case of Hollywood House, they also attached a memorandum of understanding to define exactly who would apply and pay for which elements of the improvements.

One innovative and effective initiative was the introduction of smart metering for each individual tenant. Sharing this information meant that the tenant could immediately receive the benefits of saving energy in their office, reinforcing their behaviour and creating clear total energy saving benefits for the landlord over the entire property. They also shared information on heating and lighting.

In the CIBSE Journal July 2014, Mitch Layng IENG FCIBSE, M&G Real Estate associate director :portfolio energy management said, ‘ Provision of information for the building log book and the metering strategy enabled the log book to be used to optimise the building’s performance’

Hollywood House has since been sold, and Layng commented that ‘the cost of additional green measures under the green lease were lower than the subsequent increase in the value of the property.’

Dunlop Systems and Components new 'low carbon' factory got the best EPC rating of any factory of its size in the West Midlands

Dunlop Systems and Components new ‘low carbon’ factory got the best EPC rating of any factory of its size in the West Midlands

2.Specifying energy efficiency

When refurbishing, re-fitting or even moving to a new build, this is the optimum time to demand energy efficiency as the landlord will be in a good position to work with you and the developer to make this happen.

An outstanding example of a company that did this is Dunlop Systems & Components, who moved from a 100 year old factory site to a highly efficient Prologis development in Coventry. The new facility has contributed towards a 70 per cent reduction in energy equal to around £204,000 in energy bills, reduced carbon by 58 per cent and provided a better place to work for the employees. Dunlop Systems and Components are currently up for an award in the New Building category of the 2degrees awards.

According to Mick Canham, Facilities and Environment Manager, ‘We worked with Prologis and Couch Perry Wilkes to ensure that energy efficiency was prioritised in our new factory building. Setting this as a clear objective meant that it was considered in the build and fit-out but also in how our employees would use the building going forward.’

3.Focus on the needs of the tenants as much as the results to be gained by the landlord

There are more and more energy efficient buildings, but the impact of the improved usage is not always measured. Quantifiable evidence of change, in terms of carbon, energy, water, waste can be used to set further improvement targets for behaviour change and engagement.

Additionally, many technical improvements are lost on occupiers as they may not recognise LEDs or appreciate PIR lighting or sensor taps.  Communicating the property’s sustainability attributes also helps the occupiers encourage better behaviour.

Achieving this engagement with occupiers goes beyond improved efficiency into increasing health, wellbeing and productivity.  The idea of quantifiable evidence of change is discussed further in the newly released Leesman Review, which considers ideas put forward in the 2014 report by the World Green Building Council on ‘Health wellbeing and productivity in offices’. The value of tenant engagement programmes and the need to quantify behaviour change through the effects of controllable elements such as heat, light and office design are discussed as is the necessity to react to these in order to achieve reductions in energy and carbon.

There is a growing demand for properties to embed sustainability in the structure, but equally for these properties to be used efficiently to see maximum benefit for both the landlord and the tenant. Collaboration is key to allow the spread of information, the actualisation of a sustainable property refurbishment and build as well as to allow all parties to gain financially, in reputation and in terms of wellbeing.