The past 20 years have seen a growing realisation that the current model of development is unsustainable. In other words, we are living beyond our means. From the loss of biodiversity with the felling of rainforests or over fishing to the negative effect our consumption patterns are having on the environment and the climate. Our way of life is placing an increasing burden on the planet.
The increasing stress we put on resources and environmental systems such as water, land and air cannot go on forever. Especially as the world’s population continues to increase and we already see a world where over a billion people live on less than a pound a day.
The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations. Unless we start to make real progress toward reconciling these contradictions we face a future that is less certain and less secure. We need to make a decisive move toward more sustainable development. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is in our own long-term best interests. It offers the best hope for the future. Whether at school, in the home or at work, we all have a part to play. Our small everyday actions add up to make a big difference.
The founding directors of Portland consulting engineers were involved in the first building in the North East constructed with a vision of sustainability not only from an energy conservation point of view but also in the use of materials which minimised the use of embodied energy.
The main office for South Tyneside Groundwork Trust was constructed in 1995 and was named the Eco Centre Read More…. The building opened in 1996 and incorporates up to date sustainable construction methods for the offices, and also provides quality tenancies for local start-up and SME businesses, along with support of local jobs, job creation and social enterprises.
The Eco Centre developed by the trust is constructed from materials recycled from sustainable sources, including re-used bricks from a demolished factory, an aluminium roof re-smelted from old drink cans, wood from farmed forests and woollen carpets. Electricity is generated by a wind turbine and photovoltaic display.
In addition the building was a first in the North East to use ground source heat pumps connected to a borehole and comfort control of the air was created by an internal water feature and stack effect atrium.
In 2005 the facilities were improved with the provision of a new entrance, which features low voltage lighting and other energy saving initiatives.
This award-winning project has become an exemplar of sustainability and the founding directors of Portland Consulting Engineers have enhanced the skills learnt from that cutting edge building to meet the modern challenges of today.
Building sustainable homes requires us to minimise all sorts of environmental impacts in addition to carbon dioxide emissions, such as water use, waste generated, and materials for building.
The Code for Sustainable Homes (Read More…) provides a comprehensive measure of the sustainability of new homes, ensuring that sustainable homes deliver real improvements in key areas such as carbon dioxide emissions and water use. The Government’s ambition for the Code is that it becomes the single national standard for the design and construction of sustainable homes, and that it drives improvements in home building practice.
This technical guidance sets out the requirements for the Code, and the process for achieving a Code assessment. It aims to make gaining a Code assessment as simple, transparent and rigorous as possible, inspiring confidence in Code assessors, home builders, product manufacturers and consumers. Portland Consulting Engineers are now well recognised as providers of sustainable solution which meet the high standards expected from the code.
A project in York is one of the first to have been adopted by York City Council with a permeable pavement design and current projects are being designed using both peremeable paving and drainage infiltration systems. Such designs score highly with code assessors.
In addition to housing other types of development are being designed with sustainability high on the agenda. A recently completed commission for a headquarters building involved the construction of concrete roofs to give good thermal massing and also a Sedum roof covering.
Legislation is changing at a rapid pace and the staff and directors here at Portland will continually invest in new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of the future.