JTP is pleased to announce that its self-designed studio, Pennington Street Warehouse (PSW), has achieved BREEAM certification. Here, we discuss our progress against our sustainability aspirations and the commitments we have set to ensure we continue to make a positive impact on the environment.
As stern advocates of building reuse, we very purposefully chose to reposition PSW as opposed to building completely anew. This significantly helped to reduce our carbon impact. The benefits of reusing and renovating buildings far outweigh the benefits of constructing new energy-efficient structures. It takes 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30% more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to construction.
As part of pre-move analysis into our former studio, we had undertaken an air quality study which revealed that despite good natural ventilation, levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were higher than expected. We set our ambition for PSW to be a healthy VOC free studio environment. In design, construction and occupation we were stringent in the selection of materials and finishes. Every material – paint, timber, fabric, furniture and cleaning product – is VOC free.
Within the design, we have ensured that we have not only used materials that are resilient and ready for the long-term, but that have a low carbon impact. We recognise that reducing our ecological impact is more than a building issue; it’s requires a shift in behaviours and mindset. Now in occupation, we have implemented new initiatives to change our behaviours - reusable water bottles, eco-friendly coffee cups and hessian lunch bags to reduce our consumption.
Key energy and carbon emissions strategies
The intention was to use the thermal properties of the existing building in the way it was originally designed. The building envelope of the existing warehouse is characterised by high thermal mass, limited openings in the façades and extensive areas of rooflights. The internal brickwork walls have no internal finishes, allowing their high thermal mass to be exposed, which assists in reducing fluctuation of internal temperatures.
The heating and cooling solution is a Refrigerant Volume System (VRV) with heat recovery designed to respond to the different spatial and environmental characteristics of the studio to provide cooling to one space and heating another simultaneously – enabling heat that would be otherwise wasted to be recovered and recycled.
Further supplementing this approach is the cooling of the server room. Rather than discharging excess heat to the outside as normal practice, heat generated by the computer servers is utilised to provide 20% of the heating requirements for the studio, further reducing running costs and reducing CO2 emissions. Our regulated energy use, calculated based on the technical specification of the installed equipment and lighting, is 24.9 kg/CO2/m2/yr. The unregulated energy use, based on the energy consumption identified within the BRUKL prepared for the project, is 17.66 kg/ CO2/m2/yr.
Our energy consumption for the whole building is 58.59kWh/m2. This meets the 2025 Targets and is just shy of the 2030 target of less than 55 kWh/m2/y in the RIBA 2030 Challenge target metrics.
All specified materials were assessed on their cradle-to-grave credentials, life-cycle analysis and their green guide rating, noting their embodied carbon. This enabled us to achieve 6 out of a possible 6 credits for the BREEAM Mat 01.1: Environmental impact of materials – Option 1: Project life cycle assessment study requirement.
In addition, the circular economy principles were considered for all our products. For example we chose to use a carpet tile that was made of 59% recycled content with heavy backing including a 90% recycled polyurethane cushion and from a company who will collect used tiles, initially to refurbish and reuse and finally to recycle into the manufacture process. The tiles were secured using a natural beeswax underside which meant that no adhesive was used and if any damage occurs it is easy to replace one tile rather than the whole floor.
A sustainable procurement plan was implemented by our contractor. All timber was sustainably certified and a preference for locally sourced materials were imposed. For example a local carpentry company was chosen to manufacture the furniture.
Supporting health and wellbeing
The building has been designed to be fully inclusive and accessible with lift access to all floors and a wheelchair accessible WC. The lighting control is based around the use of a smart control system which allows for individual occupancy control over workspaces. The lighting design includes a dimmable control system, a mobile interface allowing adjustments to individual areas or zones to suit individual lighting requirements, PIR sensors for after hours, daylight sensor to automatically adjust lighting levels based on the influx of daylight and the ability to set various scenes to suit user requirements.
In addition, we’ve designed spaces that encourage an active work life, movement and interaction. Using principles of active design, we have incorporated open and accessible stairways, adjustable workstations, clustered amenities and equipment and activity spaces – all to promote physical activity.
The integration of biophilia and densely planted areas provides not only air purification but also spaces for contemplation. The green space helps to improve productivity and cognition. Additionally, access to exterior green and blue space all help to increase workplace wellbeing; re-energising and motivating employees, giving them space for contemplation.
We’re not resting on our laurels though, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Creating a better future means developing a deeper understanding of the past. Every year, we undertake a detailed analysis of our design portfolio to understand the impact our work is having on the environment and world, and how we are tracking as a firm against the industry’s broader goals for improvement. JTP is a signatory of Architects Declare and we are committed to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and will work across all projects to deliver the ambitions of the plan. In addition to this, we are committed to delivering the ambitions of The Wildlife Trusts’ Nature Recovery Network in our projects and places to achieve ecological and net biodiversity gains in our projects. Our ambition is to not undertake projects that do not deliver environmental or biodiversity gains.