Reducing CO2 emissions in UK Projects

Sustainability Report 2009

Lightening the load

Within the building industry, the focus for emissions is primarily on CO2, although in the future the carbon equivalent of other greenhouse gases may be evaluated as part of an ecological footprint calculation.

The work that Atelier Ten does has a fundamental and significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions. Every project or commission for buildings, masterplans and sustainability frameworks that Atelier Ten takes on involves reducing energy use and consequently CO2 emissions. We quantify the baseline that establishes what the CO2 emissions for an equivalent conventional building design would be, or in the case of a masterplan, we establish this over a range of buildings and uses, including existing buildings. This baseline work is conducted in line with principles established by UK building regulations which ensure a comparable industry standard of assessment.

We are committed to using our skills and influence to improve the built environment and to maintain the integrity and quality of the natural and cultural environments in which we operate.

We then investigate passive design strategies, such as orientation, façade design and improvements to the performance of the building envelope that can reduce energy use. We offer innovative ideas for building services strategies and energy supply to ensure energy use is efficient and cost effective. We then calculate the energy and CO2 emissions reductions for the proposals by using industry recognised and accredited analysis tools and applying benchmark comparisons or actual consumption data for existing buildings. This theoretical study is usually undertaken during design development, informing both planning submissions and detailed design. After the building is complete, a further study can be undertaken to establish the actual performance of the building in terms of energy use and CO2 emissions. Part of this is influenced by building users and construction delivery and part is established by the building specification. The future comparison of proposed versus actual data will provide us with a mechanism for driving performance improvements.

For the purpose of this Report, we have taken an audit on projects which have been submitted for planning in 2009, and the proposed energy and CO2 emissions savings established at this level of design. The projects covered are UK-based and regulated projects only and reflect the design efforts of our UK staff. For this purpose, the carbon emissions saved should be understood in the context of the size of the office in the UK, where our project range is international. We perceive ourselves as a small company which has a big positive impact, and we intend to target the growth of our influence exponentially with the growth of our staff base. For the purposes of reporting, these projects involve emissions reductions that we can influence and, to some extent, control, but which are not owned or fully controlled by us as an organisation. The emissions recorded are mandatory up to the point of meeting standards set by Approved Document Part L (2006) of the UK Building Regulations. Reduction of emissions beyond this point are voluntary and display best or exemplary practice.

Summary of CO2 emission reductions in UK projects

The agreed baselines used in the graphs are as follows:

  • For existing buildings, as in the case of the theatre, the baseline is formed of actual consumption data
  • For masterplans, the baseline is formed from recognised benchmarks
  • For new build Residential, the baseline is in compliance with Approved Document Part L (2006)
  • For new build Commercial, the baseline represents the notional comparable building established by Approved Document Part L (2002) and includes mandatory and voluntary savings
  • Zero carbon schemes also account for power for appliances in line with current government proposed definitions

From our UK offices, in 2009 we contributed towards the concept design of buildings (RIBA Work Stage C) located in the UK for submission to planning, totalling 180,000m². These projects range from a minimum 20% improvement over baseline figures to 100% saving in CO2 emissions per year. This includes one zero carbon residential scheme, one zero carbon mixed-use scheme and one zero carbon commercial scheme.

We have developed schemes that on average propose a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions and energy consumption per year over approved baselines. The majority of our projects perform better than the average. It is expected that a total of 433 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved each year as a result of these nine proposed developments (both new build and existing). Benchmarks applied to these projects range from BREEAM Very Good to Outstanding and Code for Sustainable Homes Levels 3 to 5.