Sustainability at the Summit

24.09.09

The sustainability of a new building is an essential consideration from the primary stages of the design, through to the completion of construction and beyond. The UK construction industry is significant: its output is worth over £100bn a year. It accounts for eight per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment for around three million workers (BERR, 20091). The design, construction and operation of our built environment affect the rate at which we use resources. Buildings are responsible for almost half of the country’s carbon emissions, half of our water consumption, about one third of landfill waste and one quarter of all raw materials used in the economy (BIS, 20092).

Assessment methods, such as BREEAM are the construction industry’s tool to achieve a more sustainable built environment. Most government departments and Local Planning Authorities, including the Greater London Authority (GLA), now require minimum BREEAM standards to be achieved for new developments.

RPS is a licensed BREEAM assessor organisation with a number of qualified assessors, whose practical experience enables them to work with developers, housing associations, architects and design teams to blend the requirements of the assessment methods with practical and cost effective solutions.

RPS was appointed by Summit Hotels Ltd to provide planning, technical support and sustainability advice services for a proposed part 7 and part 11-storey hotel (262-beds) in Wembley, to meet a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard and comply with a 20% carbon reduction target as well as a 50% score on the Local authorities sustainability checklist.

Delivering such a large-scale building to meet such sustainability measures was a challenge, and careful planning was required to develop an approach to sustainability which met these numerous requirements. Some key elements included:

  • Devising an energy strategy that complied with both the BREEAM and the carbon reduction targets.
  • Reviewing the materials palette with the scheme architects to determine alternative solutions to deliver a higher BREEAM score.
  • Developing a strategy to reduce the water demand for the hotel, which included a mix of low water fittings, leak detection measures, proximity controlled sanitary shut off systems and rainwater harvesting to meet stringent water reduction targets in BREEAM.

Necessary design constraints posed a particular obstacle to meeting some targets, and RPS worked closely with the local authority to ensure that additional sustainable measures were met, and an alternative target score was developed to incorporate sustainability measures that were not featured on the authority’s checklist.

Meticulous planning meant that the hotel design fully met the London Plan policies for sustainability, including setting in place plans for the specification of green roofs to meet London Plan policies for taller buildings.
RPS’ advice ensured the design met local authority targets of 50% and successfully achieved the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for the bespoke building through planning.

1 BERR (2009) Construction Products and
Regulatory Impact. www.berr.gov.uk

2 BIS (2008) Strategy for Sustainable Construction
HM Government, June 2008