As architects, it is essential that we lead by example when it comes to green living. We can guide our clients and designs from our own experience by living and working in a sustainable way.
At ECA, we have a holistic sustainability policy that encompasses all aspects of current best practice. One part of this agenda is carbon emissions, and we have been measuring our carbon footprints on a yearly basis since 2005. In 2008, we made a commitment to Islington Council to reduce our emissions by a further 15% over 3 years. To tackle this challenge, we have adopted Gareth Kane’s approach to green business, and looked for “small steps” and “huge leaps”.
A key factor in greening our business is staff engagement. We share responsibility for green issues within the members’ co-operative, and our ‘Team Green’ leads this process by spreading the knowledge with informal lunchtime updates and CPD. Team Green has also produced practical guidelines covering power, water and waste saving steps which help us to use our building more efficiently.
More substantial efforts are the switch to green electricity, creating a green travel plan and installing a new gas condensing boiler with outside thermostat.
To improve our footprints further, we have proposed a complete remodelling of our existing office, which will seek to inspire a much greater level of sustainable working. A careful remodelling of the existing 19th Century warehouse will include various renewable energy technologies and enhanced insulation:
- Flat panel solar collectors integrated with slate roof
- Solar hot water system provides hot water for the kitchen and WCs
- Down-pipe collects rainwater for harvesting
- Rainwater harvesting tank
- Harvested rainwater is used for flushing toilets
- Water is extracted from the canal and its embodied temperature used by the heat pump to heat or cool the building
- Heat pump
- Plasterboard ceiling panels (Variotherm) are embedded with small bore pipes for radiant heating and cooling
- Pipework from heat pump feeds Variotherm on the ceilings throughout the building
- Having been used by the heat pump, water is discharged back into the canal
- Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to Basement floor, the rest of the building is naturally ventilated on a Building Management System as part of the night cooling strategy
- New high performance sash windows installed within existing openings
- Metal grilles mimic the 19th Century fenestration, provide security and assist with solar shading
- Existing window reveals within the listed wall have sills lowered to maximise views and daylight to increase the studio’s interaction with the towpath
- New lime and hemp insulation to be applied to the inside face of the listed wall to upgrade its thermal performance
- Locally listed brick wall repaired and restored
- Existing slates reclaimed and reinstalled on roof
- The design has been assessed by the Building Research Establishment and achieves a BREEAM Offices 2006 ‘Excellent’ rating