31st May 2023

Helping Assura Achieve a Net Zero Future


We have been working with FTSE250 company, Assura plc, to develop their Net Zero Carbon Design Guide which will inform all of the company’s future developments.

The guide, which we collaborated with Hawkins Brown and Atelier Ten on, has already been adopted across all of Assura’s new developments at RIBA Stage 2. It focuses on practical and design-led guidance which is mapped against a development’s typical lifecycle using the RIBA Stages of Work.

Assura is a specialist property company which develops, invests and manages primary care buildings across the UK, largely working with General Practitioners and the NHS.

The company has long-term ambitions to be net zero carbon across its portfolio by 2040 and to be the UK’s no.1 listed property business for long-term social impact. The Net Zero Carbon Design Guide represents the latest stage in that process.


Head of Development at Assura, Rob James, says: “We wanted to approach the challenge of creating a guide like this in a really constructive and innovative way and the design team has delivered. The guide sets out key decision-making considerations to achieve net zero and highlights how each section has influenced the final project outcome.

“The whole team is committed to driving a stronger sustainable agenda. We are already seeing the guide in use across all projects in the design stage, from concept to feasibility and land acquisition. We have been able to improve focus on sustainability and demonstrate how improved efficiency is helping to reduce carbon and ongoing running costs.”


Julian Broster, our Chief Operating Officer said: “We’re really pleased to have led the consultant team of Civic Engineers, Hawkins Brown and Atelier Ten in authoring this important net zero carbon guide for Assura.

“This guide is a live document that will be at the forefront of best practice in the UK for net zero carbon design. It includes measures for sustainable transport, green / blue infrastructure, as well as low carbon building materials and systems.”


Assura is currently on-site with the first project to have been designed using the Net Zero Carbon Design Guide in Fareham, Portsmouth. In partnership with Solent NHS Trust, Assura is refurbishing a high-street building to create a new child development centre.


Joseph Lazell, Director of Atelier Ten, says: “Assura have impressively taken a bold step to set ambitious design standards and benchmarks for their portfolio of buildings across the UK. The design guide sets clear targets for both operational and embodied carbon to ensure that whole life carbon is holistically addressed as part of their wider sustainability strategy.

“Unlike many existing standards, the guide not only sets clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), but also outlines practical design measures that can be integrated into the buildings to create a seamless and consistent process for future design teams. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this guide will have for Assura and the wider industry.”


As well as providing an accessible location for patients, repurposing and retrofitting an existing building offers a significant reduction in carbon emissions as the existing building frame can be used – avoiding both the waste from demolition and avoiding the production of new materials.

While each building project differs, improved carbon impacts can be generated by the considerations in the Net Zero Carbon Design Guide.

Assura’s design amendments at Fareham will reduce the operational carbon on site by 46%, and after allowing for on-site renewables, results in a minimal annual offsetting requirement for residual emissions.


Louisa Bowles, Head of Sustainability and Director at Hawkins Brown, said: “We’re excited to have been involved in this ambitious multi-disciplinary project to enable Assura to challenge their design teams to consistently deliver net zero buildings, responding to the urgency of the climate emergency.

“The Guide is purposely structured into distinct sections that speak to each role within a team to make it simple to use. These include setting out Assura’s approach to NetZero, primary and secondary metrics, key actions per RIBA design stage and information on key topics from concept to aftercare. Primary healthcare is in safe hands.”


The creation of the new guide has coincided with the creation of a new supply chain framework, helping decarbonise all Assura’s operations.

Paul Warwick, Director of Sustainability & Projects, says: “The technology already exists to achieve some incredible results, we can make the changes now.

“As a company, we’re excited to be a part of the wider transition to net zero and this is only part of the solution. We’d welcome anyone to come and talk to us about it.”


Assura will be attending Footprint+, a property conference taking place in Brighton from 6-8 June. The conference gathers every sector of the UK property market to discover and discuss state-of-the-art methods to achieve Net Zero in real estate.

Helping Assura Achieve a Net Zero Future