WHAT WE DO TO MINIMISE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT ON OUR PROJECTS
With the built environment accounting for 40% of carbon emissions, what we do on our projects as an Architectural Interior Design Company that manages full refurbishments, has never been more important. In this article I am going to share with you some of the processes that we employ on our projects, using our recent Chelsea, Fernshaw project as a case study. It is essential that we do our bit towards building a sustainable future.
THE 5 STEPS WE TAKE TO MINIMISE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
1. REDUCE, RE-USE AND RECYCLE
On any project, the first thing we look to do is to establish how we can minimise our impact, and that means establishing what stays and what goes. If we can restore or refurbish then we will build that into the scheme, where we can’t we usually find a way of up-cycling or recycling.
On this Victorian apartment, the first thing that we did was to up-cycle the old kitchen to a new home. The kitchen was in perfectly good condition, but it did nothing to celebrate the heritage and character of the property. So, we found a new, appreciative home for it. We carefully removed the units from the walls, to mitigate any damages and arranged for the new owner to collect from site. All too often, in situations like these, perfectly good cabinetry and appliances land up in the skip. Not on our watch. We have found that there are a number of channels that we can use for successfully and efficiently moving things on to reduce our impact, and minimise our carbon footprint.
The wardrobes in the Principal bedroom and bedroom 3 were renovated and redecorated instead of appointing new.
We ran a full evaluation on the existing ironmongery and reclaimed and re-installed where we could.
Instead of ripping out a perfectly fine shower room we replaced the brassware, and fitted a new mirror to the back wall. It looks every bit as good as the rest of the property as a result.
So, by employing the Reduce, Re-use and Recycle principle we were able to reduce our impact by re-using what could be reclaimed and recycling sympathetically those items that our client no longer had a use for. It takes a little more effort, but not as much as you would think.
2. ENSURE ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Period properties are not know for their energy efficiency, but there are a number of ways to achieve greater energy efficiency. On our Chelsea, Fernshaw project we installed a Smart heating app, as well as thermostats in each room to ensure temperature levels can be kept consistent with minimal energy fluctuation.
With all window dressings we installed Roman Blinds throughout. When these are dropped they help to prevent heat loss in winter and in the summer months add UV protection, minimising over heating to the property.
On the lighting we ensured that all bulbs fitted were low energy LED and dimmable, to minimise energy burn.
Though fitting acoustic matting throughout this created another layer of insulation, minimising heat loss and noise transfer to the apartment below.
Appliances used are good quality and long lasting with excellent energy ratings.
It is worth pointing out here that there is a lot more that we could do to address energy efficiency in a New Build or stand alone home, than we could do here, working with a Victorian apartment in a mansion block.
Wherever we can, we use suppliers who are making every effort to minimise their carbon footprint. With this Chelsea project we ensured that:
- the freight companies that we employed were carbon neutral.
- For the Kitchen and bathroom work surfaces, we fitted composite stone, not stone or marble, which is more resource intensive.
- We specified fabrics with high natural fibre content so that we could avoid undertaking highly toxic FR treatments. (Undertaking FR treatments is yet another step in the supply chain, increasing our carbon footprint, so to be avoided wherever possible.)
- Paint was specified as Low-VOC, durable, plastic-free wall paints, carbon-neutral and non-toxic.
4. PROJECT PLANNING AND QUANTIFICATION CHECKS
To minimise wastage quantities are always calculate twice and and then double check again. This is essential to ensure against, either over quantification and therefore wastage, or under-supply and necessary re-order. In the last instance the logistical input factor is doubled. Both scenarios are to be avoided at all costs.
Running efficient projects is only possible with thorough planning and ensuring adequate system checks are in place across the process. With rigorous project planning we can reduce our carbon footprint, so we take it seriously.
5. DESIGNED AND MADE FOR KEEPS
Designing for longevity is always our aim. We design and make quality pieces to be loved by future generations. Furthermore, we employ through our designs a timeless sensibility, befitting to the character of the property we are working on, and the pieces we are making for it. On our Fernshaw project we worked hard to honour and restore the Victorian features where they had been lost. In some of the rooms this meant removing dropped ceilings to restore original ceiling heights. In other rooms we removed boxing in order to return the room to its original design. Quality of materials specified, and method of execution were critical elements for consideration to ensure this.
At the end of the project we always supply a Client Handover file. This is an important reference file for our client with everything that they need to know to maintain the property satisfactorily. It has in it all appliance manuals, enabling easy repair and maintenance; it also has in it a full colour and materials specification map for easy touch-ups.
SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPLES IN OTHER MODES OF CONSTRUCTION
This article looks at the steps we take to minimise our carbon footprint, using a recent Victorian character apartment project as a case study. Our other area of expertise is New Build residential. Most of the principles outlined here apply, but it gets a lot more interesting with the focus shifting to methods of construction and design efficiency. We will leave that for another time though, shall we?