Stay at home and trim the fat

There are many interesting aspects to the new building for the WWF in Woking, designed by Hopkins Architects and aiming for BREEAM Outstanding, and most of them relate to the emboded energy.

Atelier Ten has combined a number of techniques to make the building as effective as possible, but these, although the practice pioneered many of them, are no longer new. Which is not a criticism. But by driving down the energy in use, it has made the embodied energy far more significant.

Working with Sturgis Carbon Profiling, the team has managed to greatly reduce the embodied energy by techniques such as using low-carbon concrete in the piles, but the most exciting area is the way in which the sheer volume of material in the building has been cut. Some of this is through clever engineering – Expedition Engineering has managed to make the columns impressively skinny, adding elegance, improving sightlines and reducing the volume of concrete.

But perhaps the most impressive is that, by working with Alexi Marmot Associates, WWF has managed to reduce the number of desks it needs and hence the overall building envelope. We hear a lot about flexible working etc etc, and sometimes this just sounds like a way for companies – quite legitimately often – to save rent on city-centre sites. But I had never thought about the effect on carbon before.

By doing a careful analysis and introduced hot desking and informal spaces that can be used both to improve experience and to provide some ‘flex’, WWF has shurnk the overall envelope of its building.This both reduces embodied carbon and cuts the amount of energy needed to run the building. And it looks like a great place to work. Win win.



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