Optimal Building Solutions and the Environment:
When you are planning a refurbishment or fit out project there are several simple opportunities that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of the work you are carrying out.
Although there is no substitute for an expert point of view on your exact circumstances and needs, the major common areas to consider are briefly described here. We’d be delighted to share our extensive environmental experience for your upcoming project, if you would like us to get in touch please leave your details.
Sustainable timber is now commonly available for both bulk timber uses (like particle board) and for high end uses such as veneers. Careful specification at the start of the project will ensure there is no cost or programme implications for your refurbishment. Timber certified as being FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) is considered the most sustainable available on the market.
Avoid installing incandescent lights and halogen down lights. In their place florescent lights look good, are cost effective, require much less maintenance and are very energy efficient. For that extra sparkle or effect, look at LED lights. In addition locating motion sensors in the right spots will also save loads of electricity and ensure lights are on and off at the right time. There are hundreds of energy efficient lighting products available easily on the market, some of which attract tax rebates.
Heating and cooling
Improving the all round energy efficiency of the heating and cooling systems probably provides the biggest opportunity for impacting environmental performance of your project and your building. There are a lot of good products out there these days that cost less than 20% of your capital budget and can pay for themselves in under 3 years. Get some specialist advice and you will save loads on your bills
Don’t forget about the furniture you have installed. Depending on the design, consider specifying sustainable timber and natural fabrics like wool or those with a high recycled content. Consider buying furniture from companies that have a good track record of protecting the environment and have minimised the amount of packaging their products need.
There are several options to consider with flooring.
What are you taking out?
Is the flooring coming out of use elsewhere in your organisation, does it have a recyclable content. Carpet can often be recycled and reused, perhaps look at charities who have recycled carpets from previous projects.
What are you putting in?
There is lots you can do to make your flooring more sustainable. You can choose carpets that have high levels of recycled content (these are now commonly available), ceramic tiles that clip together (no nasty solvent use) or use naturally sourced materials like sustainable timber or linoleum. Your architect or designer will be able to help specify a suitable product.
There are really two areas to consider here.
The first is the minimisation, removal and recycling of waste from the construction work involved in your project. This is the responsibility of the contractor you appoint so it is worth checking their track record and their supply chain when dealing with waste. A good contractor will be able to log and report the amount of waste produced, how it is collected and what proportion has been recycled (and provide certification).
The second area is dealing with ongoing waste when your building is occupied. In our experience if you make it easy for people to recycle they will. Design in attractive labeled containers in the kitchen and other places people drink and eat. Think about removing rubbish bins at people’s desks. There are many companies who will collect and recycle your office waste.
Install water efficient taps, showers toilets and kitchen appliances.