Site Assessment & Habitat Protection
Assessing site conditions before starting design work can help identify opportunities for human-nature connections in the development plan, for example by leveraging existing trees to create an outdoor garden area, or orienting a building to capture as much daylight as possible for energy efficiency purposes.
Following LEED guidelines, a solid site assessment will cover topography, hydrology, climate, vegetation, soils, human use and human health effects.
For green building purposes, we are always looking to minimize our impact on the local ecology. As we are typically dealing with a site that has minimal if any greenfield area, we are more likely to orient our focus towards integrating native vegetation, the strategic selection of plants to foster wildlife habitat (e.g. bees), terrace gardens, a green roof and generally integrating biophilia into the building’s indoor-outdoor spaces.
While LEED allows for financial contributions to national land trusts or conservation organization, wherever possible we look for creative solutions to bring the outside world into our buildings as a way to counterbalance their densely urban locations. This presents both challenge and opportunity.
Creation of Green Open Space
Creating additional open space on a refurbishment project in central London isn’t always a viable option, however where available, we look to add a rooftop amenity such as a bar or restaurant, ideally with an additional mezzanine on top to maximize the available space whilst adding an attractive feature for neighborhood workers.
In new build projects we are likely to have greater opportunities for ground floor public realm interventions that facilitate outdoor social activities, recreation or provide visual interest, e.g. gardens or water features.
Again, we see this strategy of creating open space that integrates natural design elements as a way to promote stress-relieving, restorative connections with nature in the city centre, whilst also rendering the development more accessible to the local community of workers, as well as birds and bees!
Heat Island Reduction
London as a city has a very real problem with heat absorption due to the density of its urban centre which in turn places additional burden on air conditioning, leading to increased energy demand.
For the ground floor public realm on our new build projects, we look to use vegetated planters or other structures as well as paving materials with an SR value of at least 0.28 to comply with LEED guidelines and limit heat absorption that way.
For rooftop projects we look to paving materials with an initial Solar Reflectance (SR) value of 0.33 at installation to comply with LEED recommendations, shading structures with integrated photovoltaic panels, vegetated shading structures such as leafy pergolas, or in the case of a rooftop bar or restaurant where we need to consider the guest experience as well, we use as much vegetation as possible to create an urban garden effect.
Light Pollution Reduction
Light pollution in central London can be a genuine problem at night, we comply with LEED code here by avoiding up-lighting, glare and light trespass with the use of shielded fixtures and strategic lighting design so as not to contribute further to the issue.
For more on our Environmental Policy, see here.