Our approach to sustainability

Our approach to sustainability can be summed up in the words of former RIBA president, Alex Gordon, spoken in 1974: ‘long life, loose fit, low carbon’.

Long life – durability and adaptability

We design our buildings so that they will last at least 60 years.  This means that the environmental impact of the building – the materials and the energy used to construct it – can be spread over a very long period of time.

Long life – enjoyment

We all spend much of our time in buildings. So we like to design buildings that are more than merely functional, and interiors that are uplifting and inspirational, encouraging creativity.

Loose fit – adaptability

We think about making our buildings easy to adapt to new uses.  This means big open spans and a separation of structure from fit-out.  If a building is not easy to adapt, it is likely to be prematurely demolished. This is certainly not good for the environment.  

Low carbon – energy in use

Buildings use energy almost all day, almost every day, throughout the year.  Minimising the use of energy is best for the planet, so this is our goal.

In winter, this can be achieved by us specifying ample insulation to reduce heat loss, and by carefully designing the construction to minimise air loss.

In many buildings getting too hot in summer is a big problem: so we think about shading the summer sun.  We also like to provide high ceilings and exposed thermal mass as these both keep us cool without using energy.

Natural ventilation is free but comes with the risk of some people feeling too cold: we design in mixing systems to avoid the draughts.  Natural light is also free but we need to control it carefully to avoid glare on computer screens.

All these measures are good for the planet and, at the same time, they make buildings pleasant for people to use.

Low carbon – renewable energy sources

Most of our clients look at the ‘return on investment’ when considering renewables.  PV panels are now economic without government subsidy, whereas ground source energy usually is not.  We look at all the options the site provides and, with the engineer, look at what makes financial and environmental sense.