Sustainability (the environmental friendliness and energy efficiency or our work) is an essential component of each and every design but should be developed in a pragmatic manner which equally relates to practical economic and achievable parameters alongside the desire to be ‘green’. This ‘Pragmatic Sustainability’ approach requires an understanding of the principles of sustainability and the challenges of construction.
We work with the Client, the Design Team and ultimately the contractor to deliver buildings that are energy efficient and work with the environment rather that against it.
We have extensive experience in for BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) assessment and many of our buildings have achieved BREEAM “excellent” scores.
Specific factors considered during design development and subsequent procurement may include the following;
- Practice emphasis on the use of timber, especially home grown timber. This is a renewable material compared with steel or cement based materials. Also timber ‘locks in’ atmospheric CO2 which offsets emissions from the building and, in practice, helps achieve the ideal of a carbon neutral building.
- We specify materials, products and fitments on a ‘local first’ basis; i.e. production and manufacture prioritised by Highlands: Scotland : UK : EU : Worldwide respectively. This promotion is not based upon national bias but rather a conscious effort to reduce environmental costs of transportation. It also has the effect of supporting local trades, suppliers and manufacturers.
- We encourage contractors to embrace the ‘Considerate Contractors Scheme’ and work towards raising the image of construction, particularly with regards to waste management and reducing site waste; this has a side benefit of reducing costs and materials especially on larger projects.
- Dimensional co-ordination in design to reduce wastage of materials. Understanding standard material sizes available and designing to reduce cutting and waste reduces costs and can improve construction time.
- Promoting pre-fabrication has been an aim of the Practice for a number of years. We work with local suppliers and manufacturers to develop systems that can be manufactured offsite and delivered/ craned into place, reducing site time, minimising waste and local pollution arising from waste.
- We design to minimise wet trades. This has several benefits; less water, less runoff to drains and water courses, lower site water tariffs, less drying time which means less electricity to dry out buildings, and less drying shrinkage which in turn means less defects.
- Re-cycleability designed in; determining what happens to a building at the end of its life informs materials selection and ultimately operation, maintenance and health and safety processes.