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Features, Projects|July 28, 2015 15:09

Flying the flag for sustainability

When the British Ecological Society, Biochemical Society, Society for Experimental Biology and Society of Biology acquired their new premises; the top priority was to have the building sustainably renovated to a level which would achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Clients:  British Ecological Society, Biochemical Society, Society for Experimental Biology and Society of Biology.
Designer, refurbishment and fit out: Morgan Lovell
Industry: Not for profit
Size of the project: 1,670 sq m
Location: London
Job: Design and fit out

As each of the organisations works in biological sciences, they wanted to transform Charles Darwin house, an old 1950s building, into a space which would help all four organisations  work more effectively together.

They appointed Morgan Lovell to design and refit the project, which was an easy choice to make since the company has itself acquired a BREEAM Excellent award for its offices. Plus, Morgan Lovell was ranked 23rd  in the Sunday Times’ list of the nation’s greenest companies this year.

A focal point of the project was not only to build a sustainable working space, but also to install features that would encourage staff to maintain the sustainability after the build. This meant that features such as bicycle racks, showers and lockers were installed to encourage staff to cycle into work. Bins were also removed from under desks to make way for centralised recycling, and the planning of space was considered to allow as much natural light into the building as possible. As well as being friendly to the environment, this initiative considers the employees’ wellbeing.

All materials used were carefully considered according to their green credentials – in fact much of the furniture was recycled from the former office. Any new additions were from sustainable sources, and made using recycled or highly recyclable materials.

Integrated into the build was a ‘footprint tracker’, which allows energy levels to be monitored throughout the day, so the company can put things into place to lower usage. ‘The footprint tracker is very user-friendly. It’s helped us better understand how the M and E in the building works and identified areas where we can improve,’ Norman added.

Throughout the project, all involved put sustainability at the heart of the build, which provided a focus that helped the refurbishment to run smoothly. When any problems arose the implications for BREEAM were central to finding solutions.

 After 19 weeks on-site, the project was completed and soon after was awarded  an Excellent rating from BREEAM. ‘We’re delighted with the end result. We’ve met all our objectives for the building early and we were awarded a BREEAM rating of Excellent, our target. It is a great home for us all, and our staff love it,’ Norman told us.

Post-build, excluding minor hiccups such as difficulty with achieving the right pressure on the low water-use taps, it seems that all of the sustainable materials are working brilliantly in conjunction with one another. However, the bicycle racks aren’t currently being used to their full potential which has been noted by the British Ecological Society, who is working to encourage more employees to cycle to the premises.

Charles Darwin House provides office space for four co-owners who have been jointly committed to minimising the environmental impact of the refurbishment and the ongoing running of the building. And, although some elements aren’t yet used to their maximum potential, this build is still a true example of a sustainable office that’s fully-functioning, which counts for a great deal.

After all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force employees to stick on their cycling gear and peddle to work, can you?

To read the full feature turn to page 63 in the July issue or in our digital issue by clicking here.

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