Why Commission Sustainable Buildings?
Clients and building users need sustainable buildings to satisfy society’s demands to minimise depletion of our planet’s resources and reduce the cost of using buildings. Sustainable buildings are economical over the long term. Sustainable buildings are profitable and valuable buildings!
How We Can Measure Sustainability
The British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S Green Building Council, are two internationally accepted performance assessment systems. Both take a holistic approach to evaluating the impact of the choice of site, the design, construction, operation, ongoing maintenance and future demolition. To achieve high ratings requires careful planning and commitment from the outset: the BREEAM licensed assessor or LEED-AP should be appointed as part of the design team on day one.
The rating system in BREEAM awards credits for each element of the development. ‘Excellent’ is awarded for 70 credits and over, and ‘Outstanding’ for 85 and over. In LEED the rating system is ‘Silver’ at 50-59 points, ‘Gold’ at 60-79 points, and ‘Platinum’ at 80 points and over.
In BREEAM minimum requirements are set under the headings of:
• Management of the building
and waste stream
• Health and Wellbeing
• Energy
• Transport
• Water
• Materials
• Waste
• Land use and Ecology
• Pollution
• Innovation
Additional credits are awarded for achieving higher than defined requirements. Typically, if a greenfield site is selected, it attracts zero credits, while a previously developed site will achieve one credit and a decontaminated and reused site will be awarded three credits. Likewise, proximity to public transport and mains services achieves a higher rating than a site with limited or no public transport, or mains services.
It is notable that the smallest of decisions influence the final rating. Choices made relating to building shape, orientation, location on the site, the design of elevations, areas of glazing, daylighting and natural ventilation, all of which feed into the matrix of environmental impacts, are assessed against targets, and designs are adjusted and refined to optimise the outcome.
The design of the building structure and services are key to the achievement of sustainability. The choice of fuel, together with the choice of systems and controls influence the rating greatly: use of renewable energy sources attract extra credits.
Cost control is a parallel success factor for clients. In choosing to use BREEAM or LEED, the cost of the sustainable solution is continually evaluated against project budgets and Whole Life Costs, at all stages of design: trade-offs can be made while still achieving the targets set.
PSP and Sustainability
PSP architects are committed to sustainability and we have the modelling tools to design buildings and measure their cost of construction and of use, both in terms of capital expended and environmental impact. The architects in each country have tailored their approach to the varying climate and regulatory backdrops in which they operate.
Perspective in Action
Perspective has the expertise and knowledge to deliver BREEAM and LEED certified buildings. In Ireland, the HQ for the Property Registration Authority, completed in 2010, received a BREEAM Excellent result. This is one of only three buildings in Ireland with this rating. The result is all the more significant as this is a green field development, remote from public transport.
Another project for Offices for the Department of Justice and Town Council Headquarters in Tipperary is currently on site and is targeted to achieve LEED Gold Rating.
If you would like to know more about how Perspective can help you achieve BREEAM or LEED Rating contact dublin@perspective-eeig.com