Our commitment to sustainability is recognised by our ISO 14001:2015 accreditation; the internationally recognised standard. For us, this is just the starting point – our passion for the environment is demonstrated in many ways.
Our Approach to Environmental Design Factors in the Design of Projects
We consider that the five main environmental impacts of our designs relate to:
- CO2 Emissions
- Energy Usage
- Water Consumption
- Biological Diversity
These environmental impacts are intrinsically linked, therefore we take a holistic approach with the client and other consultants.
We have a wealth of experience in achieving BREEAM Excellent ratings and we have developed a clearly defined route to achieving an Excellent rating which can be adapted to suit any site.
We encourage an early meeting with the client and end users to establish their aspirations and to ensure a successful BREEAM outcome.
Fundamental design decisions can have a key impact on all other aspects of sustainability. For example; the orientation of a building can have a huge impact on the thermal performance, but if not considered at concept stage it can become impossible to alter. By engendering a holistic approach to sustainability, these aspects should be incorporated in the early cost models, thereby forming part of the budget for the building rather than an expensive “add-on”.
We ensure that our route to ‘Excellent’ is outlined from day one and implemented throughout the design development process to guarantee the minimum of disruption to design and achieve a user-friendly, efficient and economical building.
The National Welsh Sailing Academy: BREEAM Excellent
The 1600m² BREEAM Excellent building’s design has been very much influenced by its context and relationship with the surrounding landscape. The approach to green and sustainable technologies include the use of local stone for the substantial gabion walls, timber and also translucent ‘Danpalon’ which reduces the need for artificial lighting. Photovoltaic panels and biomass have also been included within the servicing strategy.
Mirko Gabler is a listed Energy Efficiency Expert for Residential Buildings. This means we can provide a special focus on energy efficiency in refurbishments, conversions, and new designs of residential buildings.
Bio Diversity in Schools
Within every education project, we have made conscious design decisions to promote to improve biodiversity by introducing a range of diverse habitats. These opportunities not only provide an interesting stimulating environment for students, but also can act as teaching resource and encourage students to get out and ‘up close’ to nature, for example:
Wildflower Meadows: a range of vegetation structures (e.g. rosettes, stems, leaves, flowers, seedheads) supporting high diversity and high numbers of bees, insects and invertebrates, in turn supporting greater numbers of predators such as birds and mammals.
Planting of Native Hedgerows: A priority habitat in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP). Hedgerows along boundaries, create wildlife corridors and reach out to the landscape beyond the fence lines to connect green areas beyond. Hedges act like long linear woodland edges providing shade, shelter and a range of habitat niches within a small area. They are of particular value to birds as nest sites.
Native Tree Planting: Primarily native species single trees have been planted throughout the grounds which will be of great value to biodiversity when they mature and reach a good size. Tree species which flower and produce fruit have been included, these are valuable to pollinators in summer and birds in winter. This also includes planting native tree species copses to provide a large range of habitat niches.
Bird and Bat Boxes: Installed on buildings and trees.
Mixed Shrub Beds: Designed to contain species valuable to biodiversity due to their range of structures and habitat niches they provide (e.g. woody stems, foliage at varying height from the ground, flowers, seed heads/hips/berries, fruiting and herbaceous perennials). Pollinators; shrubs with many flowers and a long flowering period were chosen especially if they flowered early or late in the season when pollen and nectar sources are in short supply.
Swales: Sustainable urban drainage, creating seasonal wetlands and protecting against flooding.
Ecology Surveys: Phase 1 habitat surveys were commissioned prior to site development to establish baseline conditions and determine ecological features present (or could be present) within specified areas and their surrounds. This established requirements for further detailed surveys identifying key project constraints, made recommendations for design options avoiding significant effects on important ecological features and identified any mitigation measures for biodiversity improvement.
Pond and Bog Garden: Included at the Q3 Academy, supporting a surprisingly high number and variety of species, very important for dragonflies and amphibians (frogs, newts and toads). The bog garden was important for newts because they lack predatory fish which would otherwise eat the newt’s eggs and young.
Naturalised Bulbs in Grass: Typically snowdrop and daffodil cultivars typically aimed at providing a flush of colour and interest in spring, they provide a range of vegetation structures, and pollen and nectar early in the season.
Management Plans: Produced to ensure external areas are maintained and managed to promote biodiversity.
Beekeepers and Gardeners
To enhance our local environment we established allotments and bee hives at our Head Office in Wellfield. We have twelve allotment plots for vegetable growing; successful crops include strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, beetroot, potatoes, courgettes and pumpkins. We have also planted a mixture of twelve apple, pear and plum trees. We added bee hives with over 20,000 European bees. Over twenty staff have received bee-keeping training, and despite the British weather, we are able to produce honey for our team to enjoy.
The money raised from our office produce ‘honesty box’ is donated to local charities. Our focus is to plant crops that will help is sustain insect communities to attract butterflies and pollen for our bee population.