Sustainable Design & Construction
Since the design and construction of the Bishops Wood
Environmental Education Centre in 1993, Property Services have
adopted design policies which deliver new public buildings
that not only meet and exceed statutory targets, but also
incorporate sustainable design features at affordable
As a consequence, the Design Team routinely deliver
award-winning, low-carbon buildings that demonstrate
excellence in terms of sustainability, energy efficiency
and resilience to future climate change, all within standard
The County Council's architects took the opportunity to use the
Bishops Wood project as a test-bed for a number of
cutting-edge technologies, and incorporated breathing walls in
a highly-insulated timber construction with thermal insulation made
from recycled newspaper.
The building is naturally ventilated, a central
masonry core provides thermal mass for limiting summertime
temperatures. Waste water is treated via an on-site reed
bed, a solar hot water system serves the WC facilities, and
rainwater is harvested and passes through a Sustainable Urban
Drainage. These and other technologies have been
tried, tested and evaluated and now feature in the majority of
new projects designed by the Council's in-house design team and its
The inherent sustainable approach to design commences with the
site, its existing shape, features, orientation and gradients,
and the resident flora and fauna. Detailed feasibility
studies are undertaken, using a standardised methodology and using
a variety of modern computer-aided design tools, and a number
of options will be prepared for appraisal.
Building orientation on the site is a vital element in
achieving the lowest cost in use, in terms of maximising
daylight and beneficial solar gain and consequently
reducing the need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling.
Materials used in the construction of the building can be
judiciously selected to reduce the amount of embodied energy
and to increase the potential for recyclability when the
building is eventually demolished.
The re-use of demolition materials and other wastes
from existing structures on site is incorporated, using WRAP protocols, ensuring that
the use of virgin materials and waste sent to landfill are both
minimised. Red Hill Primary School, completed in 2007,
incorporates 26% of recycled materials within its
construction, and all the rubble from the demolition of the old
buildings on the site were incorporated in
the foundations of the new school.
The Council gives priority to the use of materials which have
the lowest lifetime environmental impact. Hence
structural timber is preferred to steel or concrete,
PVC and other oil-derived plastic materials are not
used, timber door and window frames and solvent-free paints
are specified, and floor coverings made from natural materials
such as linoleum are preferred to vinyl.
The Design Unit approaches electrical and mechanical services
design in a holistic way, with engineers and architects
liaising from the earliest feasibility stage throughout the
design and construction. Engineering services create the bulk of
the lifetime CO2 emissions from buildings, and
whilst the energy performance of these services is
controlled by Building Regulations, good design can reduce the
Preference is always given to integrated design solutions that
will inherently reduce the lifetime carbon emissions and limit
reliance on mechanical plant. Buildings are designed to reduce
reliance on external service connections, particularly storm
water drainage, and incorporate features such as sustainable
urban drainage systems, swales, on-site flood zones and green
roofs in order to adapt to the increased frequency and
severity of rainfall events that result from climate change.
This combination, together with rainwater harvesting
systems enables rainwater to be retained on the site,
attenuate run-off and minimise or even avoid the need for
a public storm water drainage connection.
The final action and priority of the 'energy hierarchy', after
reducing energy demand and wastage as much as possible and
maximising the efficient use of energy, is the exploitation of
low- or zero-carbon (LZC) energy technologies in order to
reduce further the use of fossil fuels.
Since 1996, the Design Unit has incorporated a wide range
of such systems, including wood-chip and wood-pellet boilers,
ground source heat pumps, solar PV and solar thermal
systems in building projects, and evaluated the
cost-effectiveness of each in terms of the lifetime cost of carbon
By the end of 2009-10, the Council is on target to have
installed 1,500kW of biomass boiler capacity, and over 150kW
of ground source heat pumps, providing an
ongoing overall emission reduction of some 800 tonnes of
CO2 each year across the estate.
In addition, this has resulted in exemplar buildings, such
as Red Hill Primary School which is within the top-performing
10% of low-energy schools in the UK.
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Contains a range of information relating to sustainable building
and property services to ensure a suitable environment to live
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This page was last reviewed 4 October 2012 at 15:13.
The page is next due for review 2 April 2014.