The wasteful nature of Cat A fit out is intuitively understood as a necessary evil within our industry. What remains unclear is the carbon emissions caused by this standard pattern of fit out // rip out. This study seeks to identify and understand the drivers of the current paradigm - which is complex, and with many conflicting incentives - while quantifying the carbon impacts of the current approach for delivering speculative office. The significance of tenant churn is also interrogated as a contributor to whole life building carbon emissions which is missed by existing accounting methods. Conversations with stakeholders involved across the development, marketing, and management of office space have fed into suggestions for possible ways forward. 

We explore potential impacts through the examination of four AHMM case study projects; each providing BCO verifiable Cat A office fit out. Late-stage model information is used to quantify elements within each fit out. This data is analysed with the help of industry standard life cycle assessment software, with upfront carbon emissions calculated for each scenario. 

Elements of the fit out are defined either as 'At Risk' of being ripped out on the arrival of a new tenant or 'Baked in' as a more permanent part of the building. Typical lease patterns are set out across a 60-year life of a building, with the rip out of 'At Risk' tenant fit out assumed at each lease expiry. These figures are then compared with the RICS Methodology to challenge the assumptions set out in the standard reporting mechanism. 

These findings suggest that our industry's approach to fit out not only has a marked impact on upfront carbon, but that the influence this has over the lifespan of a building is greater still. The results illustrate that while design strategies can help reduce potential life cycle carbon, it alone cannot fix this issue, and that attitudes of stakeholders across the industry need to be challenged. We propose changes to the standard practices, as well as identifying areas for further research, to drive industry wide movement towards a more provident status quo. 

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