As part of our regular team meetings and keeping abreast of market developments, a trip was organised to visit Houghton Le Spring near Sunderland to experience the first Healthcare building to achieve the score for BREEAM Outstanding.
Already having a range of experiences within the team of how BREEAM works in practice, it was interesting for us all to see first hand how a new build project can be designed to achieve the Outstanding level.
The day was hot and sunny and the site was extremely busy as it was heading towards completion later in the summer. The tour of the building was led by the project architects P&HS who expertly guided us all through the various aspects of the building explaining the sustainable design principles and the outputs generated.
Whilst the Apollo team is familiar with the majority of the sustainable aspects of this new building, including PV panels, ground source heat pumps and rainwater harvesting, the most interesting and certainly new to us, was the one metre wide “concrete thermal wall”, spanning the length of the building, which will provide natural ventilation throughout the building. The “wall” was a stack ventilation system comprising 50 ventilation chimneys designed by Breathing Buildings which, once fully operational, will help maintain a constant suitable internal environment for the building. Whilst the central concrete wall was impressive the real “wow” factor was the underground plenum which will store cool air and give the building system a cooling boost when required. Not all of us took the short restricted tour under the building but we did all enjoy the roof top tour where we saw the vast number of PV panels tucked behind a parapet wall and the vertical axis wind turbine.
Prior to the building tour we all participated in a “Sustainable “ seminar where we shared ideas and experiences gained from our own building projects and compared these to the next level required to achieve the Outstanding BREEAM award.
Richard Drew, our Development Director (North) said:
The key message learnt was that the principle of targeting BREEAM Outstanding has to be taken on board by everyone, right from the outset of the scheme; it couldn’t realistically be targeted any later as this will adversely impact on the scheme costs and viability.
Targeting BREAAM Outstanding will have an influence on site selection and will require keeping a keen focus on all aspects of BREAAM throughout the design stage and implementing this throughout the construction phase. In order to fully benefit from the building systems and sustainable features, the end users must be fully conversant with the building and understand the way it is intended to operate. At Apollo we all fully appreciate this vital last link in the chain towards BREEAM accreditation as we actively interface with all our occupiers throughout the project and most importantly, upon completion of our new schemes to ensure that they are completely satisfied with the product we have delivered for them.
Matt Eminson, currently undertaking work experience with the Apollo team said:
“It was a really enjoyable day and now I understand the principles of BREEAM and how it is delivered in practice on a building site.”
So the day came to a close and we headed off in different directions to reflect on our company achievements and look forward to the completion of our own first BREEAM Excellent building in Glasgow later this summer!!
Watch this space for a news item on this after the summer.