Sustainability is considered at all stages of the RIBA Plan of Work and is an integral part of the design process at Mark Fairhurst Architects. We analyse reuse of existing buildings on all projects to ensure we can incorporate passive energy design solutions and retain embodied energy where possible. We work with a range of sustainability engineers and consultants to ensure consumption and waste is considered to reach as close as possible to zero net carbon emissions annually. We believe that this process starts with strategic brief from the initial stages of a project. Depending on location and surrounding context, Fabric First passive design solutions can be proposed, which include:
• Maximising air-tightness
• Using super high insulation.
• Optimising solar gain through provision of openings and shading.
• Optimising natural ventilation.
• Using thermal mass of the building fabric.
• Using energy from occupants, electronic devises, etc.
To supplement passive design solutions Mark Fairhurst Architects has integrated renewal energy solutions within our designs.
• Photovoltaic Panels: We have integrated photovoltaic panels (PV) on a number of projects, including 4-8 Hafer Road and Koops Mills. The system is used to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity that can then be used for a multitude of applications, including heating systems and general electrical appliances.
• Solar Thermal: Solar thermal systems are 50 to 55% more efficient when compared to PV systems in terms of harvesting energy from the sun, however they are less versatile with benefits for water and central heating. We have typically integrated them on individual houses.
• Heat Pumps: We first researched ground source heat pumps in 2005 when designing the new offices for the Marble and Granite Centre at Troy Wharf in Rickmansworth located in the greenbelt. The building is heated and cooled using the heat pump providing a sustainably serviced building.
• Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery: We have specified mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (MVHR) on several residential projects, including the hotel at 384- 398 Commercial Road, mixed use building at Koops Mills, Bermondsey and Crown Apartments, Windmill Hill, Ruislip. The MVHR captures extracts air energy by heating incoming air into the flats thereby minimising heat loss.
• Other Renewable Options: Combined Heat & Power Systems; Biomass Systems; Wind power, micro-wind or small-wind turbines; Community Energy Grids if existing or planned will also be considered as a form of energy supply.
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)
The purpose of SUDS is to harness and reuse water with a low environmental impact that can easily be incorporated into developments. The system drains away surface water run-off through collection, storage and cleaning, before allowing it to be released slowly back into the environment, thus reducing water runoff into the sewer and replicating the natural drainage from the site before development as closely as possible. On our projects we have utilised attenuation tanks; grey water recycling; water butts for the planters; green roofs; and permeable external surfaces.
Natural Daylight and Sunlight
We ensure generous windows and doors provide suitable lighting and ventilation to all habitable rooms which minimises the use of energy consuming appliances. Natural lighting can become significant design features with the use of skylights and appropriate shading devises. We have worked with the British Research Establishment for a number of years in testing our designs to evaluate daylight and sunlight levels on the proposed and existing properties.
When developing housing schemes, the access to sustainable forms of travel for the occupants forms isa key aspect of any scheme. In line with the London Plan we encourage residents to forgo privately owned cars and adopt more sustainable forms of transport, where possible, such as public transport, cycling, walking and car share pools. We will assess the need for electric car charging points and often assist the client entering into car free agreements with the council to reducing parking stress.
We consider adapting and reusing existing buildings on site at the feasibility stage of the project to ascertain whether this offers a viable sustainable solution for the development. We can assess embodied energy and other sustainable issues. We have refurbished, adapted and extended a range of existing and listed buildings often set within conservation areas.
Modern Methods of Construction
Pre-fabrication can help increase build quality which is can greatly benefit zero carbon homes as well as reducing construction programmes and labour charges. This sustainable method can be either used to construct projects in their entirety, or specified as a hybrid solution, for parts of the building only.
Green Infrastructure/ Biodiversity/ Landscaping
We consider the London Environmental Strategy, and seek to contribute to London’s larger green network by assessing a number of factors, including: parks, green spaces, biodiversity, protecting the green belt and wildlife habitats, or urban greening factors, and provide solutions appropriate to the project location.
Biodiversity has an important role in sustaining and improving the natural environment to benefit residents, businesses and the wider community. This may involve site assessments on wild life including insects and bats; flora and fauna; trees and other ecological issues. We work with landscape designers to enhance existing sites with suitable planting to benefit resident’s private and communal amenity spaces. Green and brown roofs help both biodiversity and rainwater retention. Our project under construction, 155 Chingford Road, for five maisonettes and four flats in Walthamstow incorporates a green roof over its entirety along with communal landscaped amenity space to significantly increase biodiversity.
Circular economy implies that materials are retained in use at their highest value for as long as possible and then resued or recycled, leaving a minimum of residual waste. We specify systems that conserve resources; design for longevity, adaptability; manage demolition, excavation and construction waste. For example, the development at Chingford Road, the site of a former petrol station, the underground area previously used for the petrol and diesel tanks was decommissioned and the space utilised for new maisonettes to prevent the need for land fill.