The London office of the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has achieved the lowest embodied carbon footprint ever recorded for an office refurbishment in the UK. The project is an exemplar for sustainable office refurbishment and also features a range of innovative wellbeing measures, delivering a space that is both better for people and better for the environment.
Architects Barr Gazetas, who previous won Sustainable Project of the Year 2016 at the Building Awards for another office refurbishment, led the design and delivery team for the UK-GBC office and worked in collaboration with a carbon profiling specialist to ensure that opportunities to reuse, recycle and responsibly source were maximised.
The project succeeded in diverting 99.4% of construction waste from landfill by re-using 98% of the original fixtures and finishes, and achieved a 48% decrease in carbon emissions from lighting through an automated low-energy LED lighting system. The refurbishment delivered an embodied carbon footprint 22% below any comparable fit-out and the lowest ever recorded in the UK.
Wellbeing measures were incorporated into the design in order to improve staff satisfaction, productivity and overall health and wellness. These measures included: a beautiful living wall with over 1,500 plants; a 750% increase in background fresh air via an innovative ventilation system; and products and finishes that minimise (and in some cases actively remove) pollutants from the air.
The space is designed to accommodate a variety of working styles and agile working choices, including an open plan working area based on hot-desking; a sound-proof ‘telephone booth’ for private calls; a height-adjustable standing meeting table; and several softer break-out spaces for informal discussions and social interaction.
As well as being a testbed where every component and output has been scrutinised and monitored, the project has resulted in an inspiring, healthy and comfortable place to work.
The office will be subject to a post-occupancy evaluation to assess its operational performance against performance factors such as energy efficiency and air quality. Staff satisfaction will be evaluated through ongoing surveys, the results of which will be compared against data collected prior to the refurb. UK-GBC will also be producing content designed to help built environment professionals learn from the project, with a focus on how the design team’s innovative and collaborative ways of working mean that the project has been able to achieve its ambitious goals.