The environment is always key in our thinking, and we have been specifying CFC-free and HCFC products since the early 1990’s (The UK's legally binding Kyoto target is to reduce emissions of the six greenhouse gases to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Source: Friends of the Earth, 31 March 2005) - Did you know that fitting a dimmer switch to a tungsten lamp, and using it at 90% will give as much as 3x the lamp life? (Source: i Light). We are conscious of our environment - we all need to be. Trust us, we care.
This issue is of paramount importance to us. For a number of years the building regulations have been changing to try to improve the thermal properties of new and existing buildings and as architects we have responded accordingly. A marginal increase in insulation thicknesses can make a huge difference to the thermal performance of a building and reduce long-term running costs.
It is also the specification of materials that is important. As a nation, manufacturing is not as strong as it once was and many of the materials required for building are imported. Where possible, we endeavour to specify materials manufactured in the UK to reduce the carbon footprint of a development.
Management of a building after our work is completed is also something we try to consider. Think of any typical UK high street in the winter. There is a huge amount of heat loss from shops with their doors wide open, and overhead heaters belching out heat into the external environment whilst employees wander around in t-shirts and shoppers are wrapped up in multiple layers against the outside elements. Why does this happen? Surely reduced heating demands are good both for the environment and for the business? A shop that is uncomfortably hot might suit staff in t-shirts, but does not encourage shoppers in winter coats to linger and browse and must therefore also lead to loss of business. Turn the heating down and save.
We also believe in the issue of Fair Trade - we don’t like the idea of exploitation. Did you know that you can buy Fair Trade footballs? Sadly, the building industry is lagging in this area. Although the attitudes of shoppers might eventually change at the supermarket, it is unfortunately going to take longer for the building industry to catch up. While organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth work hard to lobby the Government about Environmental issues, how much pressure is being placed upon manufacturers and suppliers to ensure fair treatment of their workers? It is an area we are researching, and in which we would love more information to be available…