Sustainability is a fundamental aspect of all buildings, and we believe it should be embraced as an opportunity to add value, promote innovation and enhance the environment within which we live. It requires a holistic approach and should be bedded into a building at the outset; at the core of this ‘Green Thinking’ approach is:
Look at the fundamentals and do not over complicate. We will always seek to ensure that we highly insulate the building, orientate the building to maximise views whilst minimising unnecessary heat gain.
Be innovative with materials and renewable sources; but not to the detriment of the project.
Think about the maintenance and life span of materials; ensure that they are locally sourced, sustainable and durable.
Above all sustainability must be a practical attribute, neither bolted on as a series of clever accessories nor so over burdening or complex that it makes the building impractical. We work using the standards set out by Passivhaus principles as a framework. This requires a combination of energy conservation and utilising renewable energy sources to be effective.
A combination of passive and active mechanisms provide the best solutions, these can include:
Super-efficient insulation used in the building fabric – levels of insulation will exceed those recommended by the Building Regulations.
Maximising natural daylight and passive solar gains,
Reducing the amount of glazing on north facing elevations.
Sealing building elements to minimise the ‘leakage’ of heat,
Recycling ‘grey’ water and collecting rainwater to be used in toilet cisterns and in the garden,
Integrated mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems to ensure that the heat is ‘recycled’ and evenly spread throughout the building
Renewable Energy Sources
Used in selective combination to have the best and most appropriate benefit to each project:
Orientate the building to maximise passive solar energy and improve the efficiency of active renewable systems,
Incorporate solar panels and/or tubes for water heating and/or photo-voltaics for electricity,
In place of conventional boilers, consider using heat recovery units linked to ground water or air sources – these can be used to supply even-temperature underfloor, radiator or air heating systems to keep rooms cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Fuel boilers & gasification boilers using wood pellets or chips (or even logs or straw bales) can provide carbon neutral heat.
Wind turbines – if the site is open to the prevailing winds this can be a viable energy source – but as wind rarely blows constantly it would need to be used in combination with other power sources.
Elements of Green Buildings
These are obtained from natural, renewable sources that have been managed and harvested in a sustainable way; or they are obtained locally to reduce the embedded energy costs of transportation; or salvaged from reclaimed materials at nearby sites. Materials are assessed using green specifications that look at their Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in terms of their embodied energy, durability, recycled content, waste minimisation, and their ability to be reused or recycled.
Passive solar design will dramatically reduce the heating and cooling costs of a building, as will high levels of insulation and energy-efficient windows. Natural daylight design reduces a building’s electricity needs, and improves people’s health and productivity. Green buildings also incorporate energy-efficient lighting, low energy appliances, and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Minimising water use is achieved by installing greywater and rainwater catchment systems that recycle water for irrigation or toilet flushing; water-efficient appliances, such as low flow showerheads, self-closing or spray taps; low-flush toilets, or waterless composting toilets. Installing point of use hot water systems and lagging pipes saves on water heating.
Using non-toxic materials and products will improve indoor air quality, and reduce the rate of asthma, allergy and sick building syndrome. These materials are emission-free, have low or no VOC content, and are moisture resistant to deter moulds, spores and other microbes. Indoor air quality is also addressed through ventilation systems and materials that control humidity and allow a building to breathe.