Green Approaches in Architecture

GSSArchitecture were one of the first architectural practices in the UK to be awarded the accreditation of ISO 14001, the international standard that specifies the requirements for an effective environmental management system, and have made the transition to the 2015 status of the certification. This has been supported by its offices across the country, which are all run in an environmentally friendly manner; educating and encouraging all staff to continually improve environmental performance.

Beyond internal processes, GSSArchitecture aims to design the most energy efficient buildings and services to meet the needs of occupants, are responsive to the external climate, and have minimal carbon footprint. Recognising the importance of a ‘green’ approach has led to encouraging all clients to make their projects environmentally friendly through the provision of costed sustainable options in order to aid decision making.

Architects recognise that approximately 80% of the cost of running and operating a building is established within the first 20% of the design process. As part of their service, GSSArchitecture use Rapid Energy Modelling (REM) to assess design options very early in a project to provide an indication of how each of the options might impact on the future energy efficiency of the development. By employing REM techniques, building performance, energy use and the overall efficiency of the building can be assessed.

Maplefields, a £15 million school in Corby, designed by GSSArchitecture, was built to incorporate numerous environmentally friendly principles. The school’s roof features rainwater harvesting systems, high levels of thermal insulation, natural ventilation, green sedum roofs and solar thermal panels. A biofuel boiler supports an underfloor heating system and the overall project benefits from extensive hard and soft landscaping, together with a natural habitat area to encourage wildlife.

GSS Partner Tom Lyons explained, “Maplefields School incorporates a variety of teaching spaces and core facilities to enhance the experience for staff and students, creating a fully-integrated and environmentally-conscious learning environment.”

More recently, GSSArchitecture have been appointed as Architects and Lead Consultants to provide specialist building and urban design expertise as part of a large-scale residential development of 4250 dwellings, open spaces, woodlands and an infrastructure integrating the sustainable urban extension into the existing community. New Lubbesthorpe, in North West Leicestershire, is proposed to be entirely ‘green’ and the emerging masterplan has retained and protected the existing landscape, ecology and heritage assets.