M Sustainability began working with OLeary Goss and Unilife on a 6 storey student accommodation back in early 2014.
During the initial stages of this assessment, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) had not yet launched their Non Domestic Refurbishment scheme, we were however anticipating this change from the previous version, and were ready to adapt our assessment as soon as a newer and more appropriate methodology became available.
This was tricky as we still needed to meet planning requirements, but M Sustainability were ready for the change and when the Non Domestic Refurbishment was released M Sustainability quickly adapted the information and went over the changes with the Design team.
Sustainability has been considered at an early stage and has run throughout the project progression; consultation and stakeholder involvement have been a key theme, the sustainable ideas and suggestions of the team have been incorporated within the design to ensure.
As it is a refurbishment on a large scale, almost all of the previous fittings must be removed and the structure must be carefully checked to ensure that it is strong enough to be able to support the future accommodation, as much of the previous building was retained as possible to make sure that the development is efficient with its use of materials.
The design team have been keen to target as many credits under the materials section, but it is a careful balancing act between retaining elements that will last the lifetime of the building and enhance its value as a heritage site and ensuring that the building can evolve to become something new and fit for purpose, in this case it will need to be especially robust to withstand the use of the future student occupants.
As OLeary Goss are members of the Civic Society and have considerable experience with restoring heritage buildings, the project has definitely benefitted from their knowledge and enthusiasm for Historic buildings and sustainability, there were several discussions to ensure that materials preservation and selection would meet the required standards.
Although the building will be able to target a number of credits for management and materials, there are some issues that will be challenging, as the building will be retaining its existing footprint there is limited opportunity to increase the wildlife and biodiversity of the site.
The development is a large one and will require time to ensure that it is managed correctly so that the historic character can be retained in a way that is long lasting, sustainable and useful.