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Net Zero Carbon in Operation - Distribution Centres

As part of the World Green Building Council's (WGBC) global project, Advancing Net Zero, it states all new buildings must operate at net zero carbon from 2030. With the countdown on, developers are looking to their project teams to help them reach this important target. 

23 August 2022 | 3 min read

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But what does it take to deliver a building that operates sustainably? We catch up with our very own Jordie Bokor, a Principal Architect, to find out more about his role in the London Gateway project where Plot 1060 and plot 1040 are some of the most sustainable warehouses being built to date. 

Jordie, what is your role in RPS and how long have you been with us?

I am a Principal Architect and I've been with RPS just short of 9 years! (8 years and 10 months to be exact.)

How does net zero carbon and sustainability influence your work?

Net zero carbon influences every aspect of the way we design, from the small details to the large overarching strategies. We try to consider net zero carbon at each stage of our design process and ensure we take every opportunity to incorporate green design.

Tell us more about the London Gateway plot 1060 and plot 1040 projects

The London Gateway plot 1060 is an approximately 145,000 ft2 light industrial warehouse building at the London Gateway DP World port. It includes approximately 7000 ft2 of office space over two floors and is built to a high standard ‘Green Build’ specification. The facility has been taken on by London City Bond who specialise in storage for renowned drinks trade customers.

London Gateway Plot 1040 is an approximately 100,000 ft2 warehouse building designed for document storage for Oasis Group who provide information management to clients across the UK and Europe. The building includes two floors of offices totalling approximately 5,000 ft2 which will also include a client area.

Did the projects receive any sustainable accreditations?

Both plots 1060 and 1040 have received, or are on track to achieve, a BREEAM 'Outstanding' classification, Energy Performance Certificate A Rating, and Planet Mark Accreditation. 

Green forest with road running through it

How did you approach this project with sustainability in mind?

When building sustainably, we always take a practical approach. We try to incorporate as many sustainable strategies into the build as we can. We want these sustainable solutions to be as effective as possible, but we must be mindful they need to fit within budget constraints. When it comes to NZC design we aren’t afraid to think outside the box – especially with new and advancing technology.

Did you encounter any challenges with this project?

We strive to be as innovative and sustainable as we can, but the real challenge comes when having to balance the budgetary and program requirements of a scheme as well.

For this project, engagement with the supply chain for responsible sourcing of material proved challenging. Whilst big progress has been made in the responsible sourcing certification of products, some of the smaller SME supply chain manufacturers are still catching up with the latest requirements of BREEAM. We hope the certification process will be more accessible to smaller subcontractors in the future.

What are the key lessons you learnt from this project?

A key lesson is that we should engage with BREEAM early in the design process. This can be sometimes difficult when considering program constraints, but what worked successfully for both plots 1060 and 1040 were holding sustainability and BREEAM workshops early in the process, and then regularly during construction.

Any key takeaways to use on the next one?

There will always new opportunities for improving sustainability and staff welfare. For our next projects we will be incorporating outdoor rest areas with landscaping and benches, alongside improving the overall thermal performance of the building.

Finally, how has the industry changed in response to NZC targets?

Net zero carbon isn’t going away. We have seen a clear shift in the industry to an active, positive approach to adopting NZC design and policies. And more clients are requesting NZC to be incorporated into their schemes.