Roger Parker Associates, Mechanical and Electrical design in Cambridge
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A Sustainable Design Strategy - Approach

A sustainable procurement strategy for construction projects will involve a partnership between the client, design team and construction companies. The key aims for procurement will be agreed but will include:

  • Meeting user needs
  • Delivering long term value for money
  • Minimising consumption of resources in construction and operation
  • Minimising environmental damage
  • Maximising health and wellbeing

For the client it is essential to give clear direction and commitment at the briefing stage with:

  • Sustainability as a priority
  • Capital investment in long term solutions
  • Willingness to adapt working practices

For the designers this will bring focus to three areas of activity:

  • Material selection
  • Energy management
  • Welfare access and facilities

Material selection at the design and specification stage would involve materials with the following ideal qualities:

  • Safe, non polluting
  • Low embodied energy
  • Renewable
  • Locally sourced, responsibly sourced
  • Long life, low maintenance
  • Easily disposable

Energy management starts at the concept stage and aims to ensure the building's consumption of energy resources is optimised while maintaining an acceptable environment for occupants and visitors. Thermal modelling is the key to assessing strategies at the early design stage. Factors to be considered are:

  • Optimise natural (passive) response of the building to its environment
  • High levels of insulation
  • Well sealed building envelope
  • Efficient use of natural light and ventilation
  • Heat recovery
  • Avoid summer overheating and need for cooling
  • Sustainable energy technologies

Welfare access and facilities for those living and working in buildings can reduce environmental impact by:

  • Encouraging travel by public transport, cycle or pedestrian access
  • Providing local facilities that limit the need to travel away from the site

Many of these objectives will create conflicts in the design process so a balance has to be reached involving the key stakeholders. Examples would be increasing capital investment in a solution that delivers long term energey savings, or compromising on temperature control to deliver better natural lighting. These conflicts demand a whole-life cost and benefit approach with agreed measurement parameters so alternatives can be objectively evaluated.

Understandably, with sustainability in the forefront of current political and environmental thinking, there is a plethora of published guidance on these issues and it would be easy to become lost in the subject without making effective progress. We believe the appropriate approach is to use established tools such as the BREEAM process. Setting high BREEAM standards will generally address all of the points raised above and gives a nationally accepted method of rating the success of the sustainable strategy.

However this must be very carefully applied so that achieving environmental scores does not compromise the fundamental, financial and operational needs of the facility.

About RPA Ltd

We believe our broad range of project experience, from complex laboratories to discreet solutions for historic buildings makes us well placed to undertake commissions for you.

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Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is now firmly embedded in building legislation with recent developments in both planning laws and building regulations. Find out about our approach.

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Team Building

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