Category Archives: Sustainability

The green tiger

 

 

Environmental design consultant Henry Woon of Atelier Ten speaks to architecture writer Sylvia Chan about what makes Singapore one of the world’s most sustainable cities.

 

Tell us about the concept of sustainability in the context of Singapore.

In Singapore’s building industry, there is a term called ESD, or Environmental Sustainability Design. Very often the industry assumes that ESD is the same as the environmental benchmarking practice, which is called Green Mark in Singapore. Green Mark is very much similar to BREEAM in the UK. It covers issues on building design such as energy, water, waste, material, biodiversity, construction process and wellbeing. It is a widely practised system in Singapore.

However, at Atelier Ten, we understand sustainability as a much wider concept that goes beyond benchmarking. A bespoke approach is often required for each project to achieve a truly sustainable design. In a way, benchmarking should only be a baseline requirement. We are pushing for a broader concept of sustainability that encompasses more aspects, and the Singapore market is also going towards this direction.

When did the concept of sustainable design start to prevail in Singapore?

I would say around 10 to 15 years ago, when there was a global push for sustainability in the built environment in response to global warming.

Typically, the built environment accounts for 50% of a city’s energy consumption. Singapore is a country well informed of the situation, and the industry has already started to respond to it. Green Mark was set up in 2005. Recently, Singapore also signed up to COP21 and the C40 initiatives dedicated to addressing climate change.

What triggered Singapore to promote sustainable design?

Singapore has very limited land for development. Most of the energy, materials and other resources for consumption are imports. This drove Singapore to focus on developing high-quality and high-performance projects which are less reliant on imported resources. This can increase the resilience of the city-state.

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. CREDIT: Jonathan Reid – Arch.Photos

What are some of the signature sustainable projects in Singapore?

I would say the first significant sustainable project is Gardens by the Bay, which was designed by Atelier Ten. The project won a number of awards, including World Building of the Year in 2012. It was designed to be zero-carbon, and sustainability was always at the heart of the project. The gardens feature an educational section at the end of the indoor greenhouse tour. This section highlights global warming issues, and showcases how the built environment and human lifestyle changes can help reduce carbon emissions. It raises environmental awareness at a domestic level.

Another project I would like to mention is the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Campus. The campus is set within the wild nature of Singapore and was designed to blend into nature as much as possible. The cycling network within the campus is very well utilised. The university also has relentless commitment to ensure the sustainable operation on campus. It launched an EcoCampus initiative and developed a campus-wide sustainability framework, aiming to reduce energy, water use and waste intensity by 35% by 2020.

Inside the Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), designed by Heatherwick Studio. CREDIT: Hufton + Crow

Who drives the sustainable design initiatives in Singapore?

The Singapore government has a significant role. A lot of the major developments in Singapore are funded by government agencies. The government is thus both the policymaker and the client. A lot of sustainability policies and their implementation are government-driven. The industry and the government are very much aligned, and sustainability policy implementation is very efficient here.

How does the Singapore government encourage and support sustainable design in the city?

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is the main agency in Singapore that sets up environmental and sustainability standards. It also drives their implementation. BCA’s strategies in promoting sustainability design are quite multifaceted. They include policy and regulation-making, initiatives to improve baseline performances, publicity of the Green Mark best practices, and provision of incentives to encourage developers to embrace sustainability measures. One extremely effective measure in incentivising developers to design projects with high environmental performance is additional GFA allowances.

The School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, designed by CPG Consultants.

Singapore has a very high population density. What are some of the unique aspects in sustainable design in the country?

I think the density of the city gives designers and developers the opportunity to establish infrastructure and utilise resources in a more centralised way. An economy and lifestyle that emphasise sharing can facilitate Singapore’s sustainable development. The city-state is moving towards this direction by embracing a smart city economy.

The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 outlines Singapore’s vision to become more sustainable. What new measures will the city take to achieve this goal?

The blueprint covers a wide range of areas, including sustainable resources, environmental quality and community sustainability. The ‘car-lite’ campaign, transportation infrastructure upgrade, waste recycling (particularly food waste) and drainage treatment are some of the key new measures to enhance sustainability.

The Henderson Waves bridge, designed by RSP, connects Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park, and is a prime example of Singapore’s green infrastructure.

What are the latest smart technologies used for sustainable design in Singapore?

Singapore has the vision to become a Smart Nation and is believed to be in the midst of its fourth industrial revolution. The next phase of Singapore’s growth will be driven by IoT (Internet of Things, or the infrastructure of the information society), data and services, as well as sustainable design principles that will improve work efficiency and quality of life.

I think the key contribution of smart technologies is allowing extensive data collection and monitoring at the right time and the right place. This makes timely action possible. Intelligent and interconnected systems also allow environmental design and operational objectives to be met. This is very powerful, and will change industries, businesses and people’s lives.

What are Singapore’s latest goals in sustainable design?

I think Singapore’s commitment to COP21 has a monumental effect on the nation’s sustainability development. The nation will need to reduce carbon emission intensity by 36% based on the 2005 benchmark, and this is a very ambitious target. The government has also set a goal to retrofit 80% of its buildings by 2030 and rolled out measures to encourage energy efficiency, which will reduce the city-state’s dependence on foreign energy import. All these will help Singapore to maintain its competitiveness in global business.

What sorts of investments or resources are needed to meet these goals?

Resources can go in the form of business initiatives, policies, or education and community projects. Investments in smart technologies and infrastructure are also important. As Singapore is very much a government-led society, policies are usually very well coordinated and can be implemented efficiently to promote sustainability design.

Different cities face different challenges. How can other cities best learn from Singapore’s sustainable design initiatives?

One thing that Singapore has successfully established is a simple, straightforward and standardised set of green building regulations. The Green Mark is a single document that covers all the principles of sustainable design, and it delineates regulations for both residential and commercial buildings. The simplicity of the benchmarking system eliminates conflicting and overlapping regulations that could lead to inefficiency or confusion in the industry. This is very important to a successful approach to sustainable development. If a city simplifies and strengthens its sustainability regulations and clarifies it goals, developers, architects and contractors will be able to understand and comply with them more easily. Singapore is a successful example that illustrates how effective this approach can be.

 

Sylvia Chan specialises in research, writing and public relations in architecture. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Hong Kong, and her research interests include architectural representations, translations in architecture and the concept of Chineseness.

Article extracted from Make Annual 13.

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The Human Office

As wellness continues to move up the design agenda, Make considers the future of the office and the kind of workplace it could become.

The future office will be a human office, created with people at its heart. Designed for humans to flourish, it will respond to people’s diverse social, biological and intellectual needs. In the future, workplaces will provide a stimulating environment which encourages the innovation, wellbeing and productivity essential to sustainable, thriving businesses.

Workspace will be designed holistically to allow people to interact in a more natural way than what’s allowed by the rigid, desk-bound model prevalent today. By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem which recognises the countless physical and organic connections which form a vital environment.

“By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem.”

Central to this is designing space which provides flexibility for different types of businesses, whether financial services or tech, whose staff will use the space in different ways. Multiple modes of working – such as quiet concentration in an isolated spot, collaborative working in an informal meeting space, admin work standing at a table with a device, or making phone calls from a booth – will be tailored for. Technology will play a fundamental and discreet part in enabling people to work as flexibly as they like.

It’s equally important to have spaces where people can relax, socialise, eat and play. Whether it’s yoga on a green roof, sleep pods in a designated ‘quiet corner’, or a canteen offering locally grown fruit and veg, these spaces are vital, as people are ever more focused on health and wellbeing. Providing spaces for these activities will look after people’s social and emotional needs, allow them to physically recharge, and provide rich territory for new ideas.

Conceptual illustration of the human office.

Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces. Analysis of behavioural patterns and business structures will allow designers to evolve and adapt space and routes accordingly. This could result in more flexible lease arrangements, allowing tenants to shrink, grow and restructure more efficiently.

“Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces.”

In the future there will be less physical division between indoors and out, allowing the outdoors to come into the building, bringing people closer to nature. Based on humans’ innate attraction to nature, spaces will harness biophilic design creating extensive visual connections, greenery, natural materials, circadian lighting and pleasant acoustics. Building facades will clean and filter natural air while also enhancing and maximising natural light. Together, these elements will create a less stressful and therefore more productive environment.

Workplaces will achieve zero-carbon wherever possible and start to learn how to generate positive energy back to the environment. Reuse will be paramount, and developments will maximise the use of historic fabric. This will contribute to lowering carbon, as well as providing a unique sense of identity for the workplace and staff. Companies that express their brand values within their overall design will also benefit from greater staff engagement. At ground floor, offices will nurture connections to the public realm, with fully customisable space which invites people in, allowing businesses and users to fully engage with the wider community.

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Letter from Hong Kong

Roderick-Tong---Make-Architects
By Roderick Tong


Roderick Tong with an update on the latest trends and noteworthy market developments in Hong Kong.

Art and design on the rise

Hong Kong has always been known as a financial powerhouse. These days, however, it’s fast emerging as a creative hub for a new generation of artists and designers following a growing number of design events and art venues.

One of the latest hotspots for art is the recently renovated PMQ, which is located right at the centre of the city. The building’s name comes from its previous incarnation as the Police Married Quarters. The complex has attracted lots of attention since its soft opening in mid-April 2014, and much of its success comes down to the mix of designers in residence – among them, they produce contemporary fashion, avant-garde jewellery, and stylish furniture and other product designs. Notably, there are no big-name brands.

Courtyard.jpg

View of the courtyard at PMQ

Going green

There has been a growing awareness of the importance of sustainable development among the general public in Hong Kong.

Although the construction industry is not yet subject to any statutory regulations like in the UK, certification by BEAM Plus, which is largely based on BREEAM, is now one of the prerequisites for being granted gross floor area concessions for certain green and amenity features – an effort to foster a more sustainable built environment. It’s proven an effective measure for promoting green buildings in Hong Kong, with a growing number of developers adopting BEAM Plus to plan and build.

In May 2015 the Environment Bureau unveiled Hong Kong’s first energy-saving blueprint, which aims to cut ‘energy intensity’ – the amount of energy for every unit of wealth created – by 40 percent by 2025. The government is taking the lead in promoting green building development by requiring all major new government buildings to achieve at least BEAM Plus Gold certification. It’s also striving to reduce electricity consumption in government buildings by 5 percent by 2020 and will explore further reductions come 2019/20.

Increasing office supply

Hong Kong’s Grade A office market is about to embark on an unprecedented growth spurt. According to a rough estimation by JLL, at least 20,000,000ft2 of Grade A office supply will be delivered between 2015 and 2024, with a little over half of this coming from government land sales.

The growing number of mainland Chinese companies flocking to Hong Kong has been driving demand in the office market, which is becoming more decentralised rather than relying on traditional core areas. The majority of opportunities for new Grade A office space will be in decentralised areas, the most important of which is Kowloon East. The emergence of Kowloon East as a central business district is being facilitated by the sizable office space supply in Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay and Kai Tak (pictured) – together these areas are poised to offer more than 60,000,000ft2 of office space, which is about three times the size of total office space in Central. Several new infrastructure developments, including the MTR Shatin to Central Link (due for completion in 2020) and the already completed Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, will complement growth in Kowloon East.

bigstock-Urban-Development-At-Hong-Kong-104603090.jpg

Aerial view of the construction site at the old Hong Kong Kai Tak airport July 26, 2015. This is where new public housing and entertainment centers will be built by 2021.

Roderick joined Make in 2006 and relocated to Beijing in 2009 to focus on our China projects. In 2011 he moved to Hong Kong to set up our office there and oversee the construction of Dunbar Place, Make’s first building to complete in the city.

For more information on anything covered in this post please email comms@makearchitects.com or speak to your usual contact at Make.

Long life, loose fit

by James Goodfellow

‘The circular economy’ is a phrase that’s thankfully becoming increasingly well known within the built environment industry, but sadly one that seems to be taking much longer to action in a meaningful way. The concept of course is about reducing our reliance on raw materials, minimising waste, and maximising the longevity of the final product to get as long a life from it as possible before recycling the materials for use again. Essentially, it looks to replace the ‘Take, Make, Dispose’ linear economy that has dominated our culture for so long with a ‘Maintain, Reuse and Recycle’ circular one.

Linear economy

For us it’s quite simple. We try look at it as a ‘Long Life, Loose Fit’ approach. We see it as trying to get as much from a building and the process of constructing it as possible. This applies not only to the lifetime of the building itself but also to the materials used to construct it.

Circular economy

We as architects approach the circular economy at four levels, asking ourselves key questions at the start of the design process:

Firstly, at the very centre is the building. Can we maintain or repair an existing structure?
 Small changes to the way we design buildings now will help enormously later when buildings are broken down and recycled.

Circular economy - Building (c) Make

Take our 55 Baker Street project, in which the 1950s building was considered to be at the end of its life. We proposed retaining the existing structure, and we were able to keep over 70% of the concrete frame and 50% of the existing fabric. Internally, the soffits of the concrete slabs were exposed to provide thermal mass, and bespoke chilled beams were hung from the concrete ceilings to provide cooling. Externally, the cladding was upgraded to meet the highest standards through improved thermal and solar performance.

55 Baker Street construction

55 Baker Street

This brought the existing building up to modern-day standards and provided renewed life to a building that would have otherwise been demolished.

Circular economy - components

Next we assess the components. Could we reuse or redistribute parts of the current fabric, or can we introduce modular or prefabricated construction? Like Meccano, a much-loved childhood toy, what can be reused or changed? How can we make the most of different pieces of kit? At our Pure Hammersmith site, we used prefabricated units manufactured off-site and inserted a finished product into the building structure.

 

We can now design in a way that allows components to be removed or deconstructed in the future and reconditioned for use again.

Circular economy - elements

Thirdly, we analyse the elements. Can we use reclaimed or refurbished elements? And how can we optimise materials or bring repetition to our design to enhance what we have? With 5 Broadgate we optimised the size of the cladding panels to work within standard stainless steel coil widths, which minimised waste through offcuts.

Circular economy - materials

Finally, we consider the materials we use. This is really interesting for Make and something we embrace passionately. What is the recycled content of the materials we specify? What could it be? And what is their durability? The Copper Box was one of the few legacy buildings at the 2012 London Olympics, and we are now enormously proud to see this world-class sporting facility open to the community. The cladding has 70% recycled content, and you can see how it’s changing naturally over time, adding further intrigue to the building.

Copper Box

One day, all this copper will be rolled up and reused somewhere else. And that gives us enormous pride too.

5 Broadgate cladding

With 5 Broadgate we analysed all the components within the building, and when selecting materials considered the recycled content as part of the selection process. We then tracked all these elements through procurement and construction, enabling us to establish that 38.64% of total material value derives from reused and recycled content. By undertaking this study, we now have a benchmark to compare future projects against as we strive continue to take make further improvements.

 

So that’s four layers, each of which gives us the opportunity to maintain, reuse and recycle, and ensure a ‘Long Life, Loose Fit’ approach. The ultimate aim of course is to create a new generation of flexible buildings that extends the life of its constituents and that one day will be completely recyclable – something we believe is becoming increasingly plausible if we all embrace a circular economy.

Circular economy

 

 

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The future of architecture – Jet Chu

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is ex-Make partner, Jet.

Rebecca Woffenden
Jet Chu
Make Partner since 2010

China is a big country with a huge population. Lots of skyscrapers and high-rise apartment buildings are being built here at the moment and living vertically will soon be a normal way of life for many people. Because a building is such a large object and has to last for many years, it is really important how it is incorporated into the bigger picture of a community and a society. At this stage, most people in China are just paying attention to a building’s appearance, yet in the coming ten years it seems to me there are two other main areas to focus on.

The first is sustainable design and living green. People have a growing interest in and awareness of our impact on the planet and the environment. With new advancements in technology, we should actively use more natural and renewable energies in our day-to-day living, and so reduce our impact.

The second focus is that as more people move into high-rise living, it is important to think about how to rebuild a neighbourhood and a sense of community. In essence, the challenge is how can we bring the ground to the sky?jet-chu-quote

I think the future of architecture should incorporate both of these focuses – using high-tech ideas to provide a modern style of living that also minimises the impact on the environment. We are already working towards that goal but there needs to be much more force. A building is about four walls and a roof in the end. It all depends on how we use what we know to change the way we live for the better.

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The importance of post-occupancy evaluation for our future built environment

“As architects, we should care as much about our buildings after delivery as we do before.”
By Hannelore Christiaens

Many architects see the handover of a building as the final stage of their involvement in a project. At Make however, we believe that architects should not stop caring about their building at the point of delivery. Ironically, it is precisely after this point that some of the most valuable lessons about architecture and design can be learnt. An honest reflection is therefore a must: Are the users satisfied with the building? Is the building performing as well as intended? The collection of qualitative and quantitative research methods employed to answer these questions is called post-occupancy evaluation or POE, and Make has been doing this for their built projects wherever possible.

Why?

Why would an architect start from tabula rasa for each design? Verifying if a building is, indeed, working as intended would be a major contribution to an enhanced design process. The result of doing a POE can only be positive: true successes can be recognised and repeated in the future, and if certain aspects of a building do not meet expectations or if innovations are missing their targets, these will be revealed. Collecting knowledge from several projects can lead to a better understanding of comfort in general, and a better thesis to begin with once a new design project has to be initiated. Every POE will produce a particular fragment of information and by carrying out these evaluations repeatedly, this fragmented knowledge will become more and more coherent.

Lessons learnt

Project cycle

Therefore, it is not only important to have a client or user heavily involved in the design process before construction, but also for the designer to be involved with the user experience after construction, which is a phase where architects are usually left out.

Relationship between client and design team

User and design process

Practically, the lessons learnt from post-occupancy evaluations on a project can then be utilised to bring about change for that particular project and to inform future design in the following ways:

  • Intervention design: altering aspects of the building that can be changed relatively easily to increase user satisfaction (short term)
  • Renovation design: using more appropriate space divisions, materials, systems and building skins when renovating the building (medium term)
  • Future building design: problems that can’t be resolved in the current building should be avoided in future projects (long term)

POE and sustainability

POE is especially important in sustainable architecture, where it serves as a hypothesis testing for innovative projects by testing and monitoring them after completion.

Innovation and new techniques can bring unintended consequences, so it is important to see which projects are moving in the right direction.

Sustainable buildings are not just about one way of construction or combining a few techniques, we have to understand the effectiveness of sustainable design strategies in relation to context, climate, scale, type of use, user, client and city. POE can reveal why a certain technique works well on one project but fails on another by surveying actual performance, any improper usage which can cancel out environmental goals and the social and psychological effects of a building on its users. This will lead to even more successful designs with a high level of comfort. Newly built environment will therefore progressively perform better than those preceding them.

Existing standards and methods

Many kinds of POEs already exist, although they are not often used. There is not a single method which is the absolute standard, and making one ideal POE is not possible due to the unique nature of every individual project.

This adds to the complexity of implementing POEs. Quantitative and qualitative POEs, or hybrids, have been developed, covering different lifespans, techniques and processes (e.g. the Portfolio Technique incl. Probe, Soft Landings) and there are several ways of sharing knowledge (e.g. CarbonBuzz). For the projects here at Make that have been evaluated, the techniques were assessed and the appropriate method used for each case.

Cost

One of the main reasons why POE is not yet widely implemented is due to the cost. Over the long term, however, and when POE is well implemented, the benefits can be huge and definitely larger than the initial costs. A study has found the following: ‘The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory did a cost-benefit study: they found that for every dollar spent on POEs, they saved ten dollars on operating and redesign costs.’ Research Design Connections (2003)

Summary

The knowledge of how users experience a building after its delivery is an important yet often neglected source of information for architects, which stands in stark contrast to the level of interest and hard work that the architect puts into understanding the needs of the future users in the design process. POE provides this feedback and, no matter which stage of its lifecycle a building is in, the results will always be useful.

Figuratively, POE replaces the ‘blank sheet’ of the architect with transparent paper which is placed over experience, knowledge and previous successes, from which the appropriate lines can be copied. New insights are used for fine tuning new buildings, improving design for future buildings, and renovating existing buildings, leading to cost savings and a better user experience in healthy and comfortable environments.

Therefore, the sooner implementation becomes universal, the sooner the benefits will be reaped as POE takes on an increasing and, ultimately, indispensable role in the building process in the future.

Notes
Blog post based on: CHRISTIAENS, H., “Implementing post occupancy evaluation into common sustainable design practice – a reflection”, The University of Edinburgh, 2012; and sources referenced to in this paper.
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Responsible resourcing should be an integral part of every project

An independently verifiable procurement process will make us more accountable for the products we supply, specify or use

Earlier this year one of our architects, James Goodfellow, took part in a panel seminar at EcoBuild to discuss responsible sourcing, a topic which is quite rightly creeping up the agenda of many architects and is something we at Make are very focused on, especially for our 5 Broadgate project on behalf of British Land. (see James’ earlier blog post)

It requires the holistic examination of the product and the supply chain so that one is fully conscious of whether they meet environmental, social and economic requirements; from extraction, through processing and supply, right to the specification and ultimate re-use or disposal of the product.

There is no doubt that truly responsible sourcing can be a minefield. Essentially it requires the entire procurement process to be verifiable through independent sources, much like you find with FSC timber or fairtrade. The publication of the BES-6001 standard promotes responsible sourcing and provides clear guidance on the framework and governance that is required to ensure that the environmental and social aspects are addressed.

Likewise in the manufacturing process, the wellbeing of employees and the release of pollutants has to be considered. These issues are further compounded by long supply chains; the complexities for smaller enterprises in trying to meet assessment criteria and perhaps most importantly of all, creating standards that are internationally acknowledged.

A number of architects, suppliers and contractors are already leading the march on responsible sourcing, and there is increasing pressure from clients, the government and indeed the consumer public, for all of us to demand traceability and be more accountable for the products we supply, specify and use.

Responsible sourcing is something that should be embedded into the design process from the offset and the fact that BRE and British Standards have developed their own frameworks for governance can only be applauded.  But we should continue to demand that more products, and their associated supply chains are evaluated to meet these standards, for as Sarah Cary, sustainable development executive at British Land, said at the EcoBuild responsible sourcing seminar: “There’s nothing like a horsemeat scandal to get us all interested in where things come from.”  We all have a duty to be accountable for the product and its procurement to determine whether it is acceptable.  Frankly it is time responsible sourcing became an integral part of every construction project and procurement process.

Originally posted on Ken Shuttleworth's Building magazine column. 
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Responsible sourcing starts with design

by James Goodfellow

“There’s nothing like a horsemeat scandal to get us all interested in where things come from”, said Sarah Cary, sustainable development executive at British Land, when she introduced the responsible sourcing seminar at this year’s Ecobuild.

Too true.

Responsible sourcing is not a new concept at all, although it is still relatively new in the construction industry. Understanding where the products and materials we specify come from and what their impact is on the environment is so important that we must obtain an understanding of their traceability through the supply chain. It’s time that responsible sourcing became the big topic and was an integral part of every construction project.

What is responsible sourcing?

Responsible sourcing is a holistic approach to the way in which building products and construction materials are extracted, processed, supplied and used on site. It also takes into account the way materials can be re-used, recycled or disposed of when they reach they end of their lifecycle.

It requires the examination of a product and its supplier and whether they meet certain sustainability, environmental, social and economic requirements.

Why is it important?

Construction projects are one of the biggest drains on our world’s resources. From the materials we extract from the earth to the carbon emissions released during construction to the final energy requirements of the completed building. It is vital that each project makes as little negative impact on the environment as possible; benefits the communities involved in the production or supply of materials; and meets certain health, safety and quality standards so as to improve the life of the building and those using it.

Make’s approach to responsible sourcing in design

The Gateway Building is a biosciences research facility for the University of Nottingham. 5 Broadgate is the new London corporate headquarters for financial services company UBS.  These two buildings could not be more different in size, scale, use, location and requirements; however where they converge is in how best practice was ensured throughout the design process.

The Gateway Building, University of Nottingham

The Gateway Building, University of Nottingham

The materials used in The Gateway Building’s cladding reflect the campus’s agriculture heritage by bringing together three sustainable materials: wood, straw and render. Local sourcing was key in procuring the materials with the aim of not only reducing embodied carbon through transportation but also bringing employment to the local community.

Locally sourced materials for The Gateway Building

Locally sourced materials for The Gateway Building

Being an agricultural campus the straw was locally produced by the university on their neighbouring fields. A pop-up factory was then set up in a barn less than five miles from the site where the timber, straw and render were prefabricated into 14m long cassettes.  This meant the materials were assembled in a controlled environment that was extremely close to both the source of the materials and the construction site. The windows were also sourced and fabricated down the road less than 10 miles from the site.

5 Broadgate on the other hand is a large office block in the heart of the City of London. High sustainability targets have been set for the project by both the occupier, UBS and the developers, British Land.

5 Broadgate, London, UK

5 Broadgate, London, UK

Supply chain interrogation helped us make informed design decisions early on and assisted in the sustainable procurement of materials. We looked at every component specified within the building, comparing the sustainability criteria for different options including their embodied energy and recycled content. For example, these decisions meant we were able to mitigate 360 tons in CO2 equivalents on the façade alone.

Life cycle comparison of materials for 5 Broadgate

Life cycle comparison of materials for 5 Broadgate

We further defined our sustainability requirements during the tender process by producing specific sustainability requirements for all potential contractors. They were required to confirm and demonstrate compliance at tender stage and offer improvements where possible. We’ve found that it is easier to get data from suppliers at tender stage while they are keen for the job rather than after they are appointed!

Once appointed we continue to work with the supply chain to maximise material optimisation and minimise wastage as the design develops. We also work with the contractors to find further ways to minimise transportation and carbon emissions during production and this is being monitored on a project wide basis.

Summary

Two very different projects with different briefs and different opportunities. But by placing sustainability at the heart of the decision-making process and putting a strong focus on material research and supply chain interrogation, we made informed decisions that ensured the buildings were responsibly sourced.

As Derek Hughes, responsible sourcing scheme manager at BRE Global so aptly put it: “We’re all used to seeing fair trade in our coffee, but why not fair trade in our concrete?”

Notes
James Goodfellow recently presented ‘Responsible sourcing – the design process’ at Ecobuild 2013. You can download James’s presentation from the Ecobuild website or follow him on Twitter: @jamesgoodfellow 
Sarah Cary works with British Land’s project teams to drive sustainable design, responsible construction and ethical procurement. Read Sarah’s blog or follow her on Twitter: @sarahcary 
 
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