Friday, 19 February 2010

Sustainability in Buildings


As part of our current project we have been asked to remodel and upcycle a current building situated on Seafield Road in Dundee. The brief stating that the client (whom we have met and discussed her requirements) will both live and work in the newly designed building. She works as a book conservator so we have to take into account her workspace and requirements for both living and working. However the main issue in our brief is that the building's refurbishment must be part of an environmental design as part of our Reuse, Reduce and Recycle theme.

Since the issue of environmental design is so broad and seemingly infinite we were given the opportunity to hear guest speaker Richard Atkins, an environmental architect, speak to us about the company he works for and their projects. It gave us a much more understanding of the effort and thought that goes into making a building sustainably but also an insight into how much technology is being developed to allow us as designers to be able to move forward and design for the environment.

Atkins made a point that carbon emissions only accounts for a small fraction of the sustainability issue and that when designing a building you have to think beyond that target. Settings targets for the building to be non-PVC, non-OPC, carbon neutral, autonomous, low toxic, low embodied energy material and the overall footprint of the design and it's process is just a start to completing a successfully sustainably build.

Atkins went into detail about a project in Edinburgh, Norton Park, which related alot to our current project as he undertook the refurbishment of an old Victorian school. They managed to incorporate many environmental measures into the design such as:

Increased insulation levels
Secondary double glazing
High efficiency lighting
Low toxicity paints
Modulated boilers
Solar slate systems....

... and many more.

Not only did he explain the environmental elements of the build for reuse of the building but he talked about how it would even be sustainable when the building was not needed. Everything in the building was easy to unassemble and available to reuse and recycle. This allowed us to think about the bigger picture that even though you may design for a specific purpose and time, this will eventually run it's course and to allow your 'sustainable' design to be worth the effort you must think beyond it's life time.

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