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Building a sustainable future | Article


With our highly-qualified and skilled specialists, Alan Wood is an ideal partner for work in the expanding sustainable building sector. Having five offices across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire means that we are firmly rooted in a region at the heart of the green energy revolution. An environmentally positive future starts with sustainable architecture and civil engineering. This holds the key to a more economically protected environment and climate.

When designing buildings with as little ecological impact as possible there are several main concerns. The location of the building itself, the energy efficiency of the building and materials used for construction. The building might use low impact construction technologies and be energy efficient, but if the ecosystem suffers as a result of the building, this isn't utilising sustainability to its full potential.

By looking at construction in the past, techniques that previous generations thought might be redundant, along with revolutionary technology, the construction industry can create a much more sustainable world to live in. In the future, the built environments we create will have much less impact on their surroundings.

Around the world Governments look at schemes to make new builds and retrofits more sustainable. In January 2013, Green Deal was launched in the UK. The Green Deal policy is a government scheme that persuades businesses to initiate green technology in building and construction.

Passivhaus standard is another and sets requirements for certificated buildings, this approach originated in Germany during the early nineties in low energy housing. To meet the standard ‘Passivhaus’ a demand target must be met. In architecture a number of assessment methods for have been set out by companies such as LEED and BREEAM.

For an insight on the impact of emissions, building a new two bed cottage emits on average the equivalent of 80 tonnes of carbon emissions, most of this being in the materials used. Whilst this house is being occupied many emissions can be recouped by using energy efficient methods of living. If we are to become more environmentally conscious, putting in place sustainable building practices from the beginning is important and will lead to reduction in the impact construction has on its surrounding natural areas.

By keeping the energy we consume within our buildings for as long as possible we will need less supply in the first place. Reducing waste is the philosophy behind sustainable architecture, this means minimising energy loss. By using less energy to keep us comfortable we can become environmentally responsible and more efficient.

Whilst a building might be incredibly energy efficient, the structure’s building materials could still have a huge impact on the climate. When compared to unsustainable yet established construction methods, building techniques such as turf roofs and materials such as rammed earth are proven to have less impact.

Alan Wood & Partners have experience working on various sustainable related projects, including port sites that will form the bases for the offshore wind energy industry. Previous work has also seen our experts incorporate sustainable and low–energy solutions into award–winning developments.

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