Cyber Quarter

Sustainability

Not Just Green

Associated Architects has been at the forefront of sustainability for many years.

We are proud to have set our pathway to becoming a carbon neutral business. Our in-house Green Team ensures we are leading the debate around sustainability. Our Passivhaus certified designers have developed a range of unique carbon analysis tools to assist our clients with developing and achieving their sustainability and zero-carbon objectives.

It’s increasingly understood that we face an urgent Climate Emergency and need to go further, faster. We know sustainability is about more than meeting a set of criteria.  It’s about strong and responsible leadership to ensure all new and retrofit buildings deliver the best performance possible for many decades to come, and ahead of likely future regulations.

Our Approach to Sustainability

We see sustainability and architectural excellence as inseparable.

A previous winner of the RIBA Sustainability Award, we recognise that architects are uniquely placed as advocates of sustainable design, in helping to set realistic but progressive carbon and energy targets, directing and integrating the many different briefing, design and technical inputs required.

As buildings create 40% of UK’s carbon footprint and 60% of our waste, there is massive scope for carbon reduction.  With a step-change in our design thinking, buildings can become an essential part of an intelligent zero-carbon future.  People are already engaging with buildings and urban spaces in new and exciting ways, using detailed and innovative technologies that create responsive, intuitive, and efficient environments. Associated Architects are keen to stay at the leading edge, creating the low and zero-carbon buildings of tomorrow that are more in tune with the planet and the people who use them.

What are we doing as a practice?

Net Zero

The UK government has committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with many local authorities setting a more ambitious target of 2030.

With the built environment contributing around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, a fundamental change in mindset and approach is required for how we design, build and operate buildings, in order to meet these targets.

We have adopted a whole lifecycle carbon approach, ensuring all sources of emissions are considered including embodied and operational carbon. We have developed a range of carbon analysis tools to enable us to advise our clients on strategies for delivering low and zero carbon buildings and assist decision making. These tools allow us to optimise the passive design performance of our buildings, as well as assessing their embodied carbon impacts.

We also act in an advisory capacity, assisting Estates Managers, Asset Managers and Local Authorities to develop a route map to achieving their net zero carbon objectives and inform future development plans.

 

What is a Net Zero Building

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has developed a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation.

Net zero carbon – construction is defined as:

“When the amount of carbon emissions associated with a building’s product and construction stages up to practical completion is zero or negative, through the use of offsets or the net export of on-site renewable energy.”

A building targeting net zero carbon for construction should be designed to achieve net zero carbon for operational energy.

Net Zero Carbon Retrofit

80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist today. Therefore, in order to achieve net zero emissions, a large proportion of the UK’s existing building stock will need to be retrofitted to net zero standards, which represents a significant challenge.

Fundamentally, retrofitting existing buildings is more carbon efficient than demolition, so whenever there is a viable choice, we will look to retrofit existing buildings. Our 10 Brindleyplace project in Birmingham City Centre is currently the cities largest retrofit project.

Building owners may choose to retrofit for many reasons such as economic payback in reducing energy costs, increased asset value or simply an agenda to reduce carbon emissions. Whatever the reason, as Britain’s building stock ages, and occupiers are becoming more sustainability conscious, the need for creative solutions to improve energy performance and give buildings a new lease of life is accelerating.

Through sensitive design interventions we have transformed many ageing and underperforming buildings, slashing carbon emissions and creating inspiring spaces that will stand the test of time for many years to come.

Our experience shows us that different building types will present different challenges – a listed building will require different solutions to retrofitting a low carbon home. Regardless of the challenges, our approach remains the same, rooted in analysis and providing efficient and practical solutions that will maximise the benefits.

Passivhaus Certified Design

We have a passion for designing award-winning contemporary buildings using sustainable methods, technology and materials. The Passivhaus approach to low energy building design, provides us with an industry-benchmarked methodology.

Our Passivhaus certified designers have delivered some of the country’s most significant Passivhaus schemes, including the UK’s largest, non-domestic, Passivhaus building, the George Davies Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester, and England’s first homes to both zero carbon (Code for Sustainable Homes level 6) and Passivhaus standards, the Eco Vicarages in Worcestershire.

What is Passivhaus?

Passivhaus is an international energy performance standard that provides a robust methodology and rigorous quality assurance process, verified and certified via independent testing. It can be applied to both domestic and non-domestic buildings, for new build and retrofit projects. Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling. This is primarily achieved by adopting a fabric first approach with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous design and construction. By specifying high levels of insulation and exceptional levels of airtightness, Passivhaus buildings can achieve a reduction of 75% in space heating requirements, compared to standard practice for UK new builds. Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software is used to accurately model the design and calculate energy use and CO₂ emissions. PHPP’s sophisticated tools enable a wide range of variable characteristics to be tested in order to optimise the design, producing an accurate predicted energy use that will closely reflect real-world performance.

Evidence shows that Passivhaus buildings perform to their designed standard in-use. This is crucial, given that there can be a discrepancy of as much as 50-100% between design aspiration and as-built performance for many new buildings in the UK.