Working with a design team consisting of Sweett Group, Cunduall, Sturgis Carbon Profiling, Barr Gazetas and the Building Centre leaseholders, the UKGBC has created a brief that will aim to exceed standards for carbon costs, recycling, air quality and energy use by a building.

The retrofit will aim to achieve the lowest measured fit-out carbon footprint in the UK by exceeding the standard for carbon costs per square metre, while 98% of the current building material will be reused or recycled. All new material used during the refit will be sourced locally with high recycled content and an “end of life” plan.

The building will also maximise air quality in line with relevant standards and requirements, including the minimisation of VOCs from materials used. Energy will be reduced by 40% per employee by 2020 by revamping lighting. Overall performance of the building will at least equal the REEB best practice benchmark.

UKGBC’s chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “We’ve set some stretching targets for our small office upgrade, in keeping with the ambitious nature of our mission – to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment.  We’ve selected a design team who have not only demonstrated the solutions-oriented expertise needed for this unusual project, but who are enthused by working collaboratively.

“One of the requirements of the brief was a commitment to sharing the challenges and insights from this project with our members and the wider industry. Of course, UK-GBC is in a unique position to benefit from the good practice and generosity of its own members, which has so far proven outstanding. So whilst we recognise the project may not be replicable in its entirety, we hope the integrated design approach will inform other organisations however small to aim high on the sustainability of their fit-out.”

Building for the future

With the fit-out set for completion in October 2016, the UKGBC will hope to create a best practice example for an industry struggling to adapt to low-carbon trends.

Handicapped by a plethora of policy changes to green building regulations, the sector has struggled to implement more closed-loop operational models. UKGBC has recently urged the industry to take a collaborative ‘evolutionary jump’ and apply circular economy principles to the built environment.

Infrastructure and construction firm AECOM has also waded in on the political argument, claiming that policies are ‘getting in the way’ of green building design. The UK’s quantity over quality approach to construction is also threatening London’s position as a green building leader.

Matt Mace

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