Green Building Council office refurb sets record for low-carbon impact

The central London headquarters of the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), which played host to edie's latest podcast episode, has achieved the lowest embodied carbon footprint ever recorded for a UK office refurbishment.

Led by London-based architects Barr Gazetas, the refurbishment project has resulted in a 139kgCO2/m2 embodied carbon footprint at UK-GBC’s 162m2 office floorspace – 22% below a comparable “standard” fit-out.

The office today (31 October) hosted the 14th episode of edie’s Sustainable Business Covered podcast, which discussed the past, present and future of green building’s with the UK-GBC’s campaigns and policy director John Alker.

A range of innovative measures have improved the office’s environmental impact: an automated LED lighting system has led to a 48% decrease in carbon emissions, while 98% of original fixtures and finishes have been re-used or re-purposed thanks to an emphasis on waste and resource management.

UK-GBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “UK-GBC’s purpose is to accelerate the transformation of places so that people and planet can thrive. In refurbishing our own office space, we had a fantastic opportunity to trial and showcase the very best solutions sourced from our membership.

“I’m delighted at the outstanding results we have achieved – both to minimise our environmental footprint and to improve the wellbeing and productivity of our staff.”

‘Healthy and inspiring’

Other measures in the refurbished office space include an eye-catching living wall housing more than 1,500 plants, and an innovative ventilation system which has delivered a 750% increase in background fresh air provision. Throughout the project, 99.4% of construction waste was diverted from landfill.

The project also aims to reduce energy used per employee for lighting and small power by 40% by 2020 compared to a 2013 baseline, with the overall performance, including HVAC, equalling or exceeding the REEB best practice benchmark. UK-GBC hopes to improve the health and productivity of the 25 regular office users, with an aim for at least a 10% improvement in staff satisfaction with the office environment.  

Barr Gazetas director Tom Lacey said: “As well as being a testbed where every component and output has been scrutinised and monitored, the project is an inspiring, healthy and comfortable place to work.

“To have achieved such lofty technical targets whilst making a genuine difference for the people who use the space has been a rich learning experience that will have an effect on all our future work.”


This is the latest in a line of examples of companies and institutions placing sustainability and energy efficiency at the centre of their building development plans.

Last week it was announced that the town of Hemel Hempstead is poised to welcome the world’s “most sustainable residential tower” to its ranks in 2018, after Lumiere Developments unveiled the range of technologies it has turned to in order to create The Beacon.

Meanwhile, students at the University of Northampton will soon have their heating and hot water generated by a CO2-saving on-site energy centre, incorporating woodchip biomass boilers and a combined heat and power (CHP) system.

According to a recent report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), ‘healthy’ and ‘green’ office design and operation can deliver key business benefits such as a reduction in sick days, an improvement in productivity and increased collaboration between workers.

edie’s green buildings month

The month of October saw edie shift the editorial spotlight to green buildings, with an array of exclusive content which highlighted and discussed the options now available to improve the environmental performance of buildings. Read all of our green buildings content from the month here.

George Ogleby

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