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Sustainable Design, Materials And Construction Methods

Introduction -Sustainable Design, Materials And Construction Methods

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Sustainability in construction

Mostly the construction industry utilizes the natural resources.. With the increasing concern for climate change and natural resources, the construction industry is facing pressure from private sectors and the government in order to reduce the impact of the environment. Some challenges are involved in the methods of sustainable construction. However, there are a lot of benefits of adapting this method. Sustainable construction is the process in which renewable and recyclable materials are used in the building project, thus reducing the consumption of energy and production of waste. The main aim of this sustainable process of construction is to reduce the adverse impact on the environment. The design of the building should have minimum impact on the environment and also the lifespan of the structure. The building design should consist of materials and elements that are having constant influence on the environmental impact of the structure. These include roof hatches that are energy- efficient, proper insulation in order to prevent heat loss, solar panels and energy consumption is minimized from the grid that are coming from the fossil fuels and building materials.

Importance of Sustainable construction

The construction industry, from emission up to the consumption of energy, creates significant environmental effects. The consumption of energy is high in case of construction of the structure over the wild habitats. Most of the equipment and heavy machinery are still relying upon fuels. Inefficient use of electricity can result in the unnecessary fuel combustion in order to provide the sufficient supply of grid power lines. However, the energy usage is about 36% and CO2 emission is about 40% worldwide in the industry of construction. The materials of fabrication and shipping can hugely impact on the emission of carbon. Mining of raw materials like metals can lead to water pollution (Ajayi et al, 2019). The manufacture of cement plants or concrete has resulted in the emission of tons of CO2, which is significantly increasing every year. However, hazardous waste can also be generated due to inappropriate management or disposal, thus resulting in the pollution which is affecting the people and the environment in that location.

Sustainable Construction Practices

Ways to make the construction of building sustainable–

Renewable Energy

The steps are taken to bring renewable energy at the site of construction. The most popular system is the system of modular batteries that deploys quickly on the site and recharges through the solar panels. These systems can help to power the vehicle, equipment of security and tools of electric power at the site of construction (Kamionka, 2020). These batteries will help in eliminating tons of CO2 and the diesel consumption reduces almost about 100 liters per week, thus creating a positive impact on the environment when applied on large projects of construction.

Sustainable Materials of Construction

  • Wood – Adequate management of forest in order to provide wildlife habitat and valuable building materials are supplied.
  • Alternative Bricks– In order to produce brick, mud and wool is used as the best raw material that makes the bricks as strong as the traditional bricks without using the process of kiln that can result in harmful emissions.
  • Sustainable Concrete– Plastics and recyclable materials are the good substitute for concrete that can significantly minimize the production of carbon dioxide.

Plastic Construction Material

The main destroyer of the ecosystem or environment is plastic. By using it appropriately in the process of construction, it can provide considerable strength. The main aim of sustainable construction is constructing the buildings of longer lifespan. The main advantage of using plastic materials is that it will not degrade in the expanded course of time, thus will not require much maintenance or replacement (Ismael and Shealy, 2019). In order to produce recycled and durable materials of construction, plastics can be used in the manufacturing of the construction materials. In this way the negative impacts on the environment can be minimized as moving towards the advanced, innovative world.


“Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method” or “BREEAM'' is also used in the master plan projects, buildings and infrastructure. It is basically a sustainability assessment. The “Building Research Establishment (BRE)”, launched the BREEAM in 1990. The standards are set for the environmental building performance through its specifications, designs, operation phases and construction which can be applied to the schemes of refurbishments or new developments.

The assessment of BREEAM basically evaluates the design, procurement, operation and construction of the developments based on specific targets with a range of performance benchmarks. It mainly focuses on sustainable values like– ecology, land use, energy, water, pollution, wellbeing, health, materials, transport, materials, management and waste. However, every category mostly focuses on some influential factors, that include reduction of carbon emission, adaptation of climate change, less impact design, protection of biodiversity and ecological value (Sanchez Cordero et al, 2019). The assessment is performed by the “Independent licensed assessor”, then scoring criteria and then weighting is multiplied.

Two certification/ assessment stages are generally worked out– an assessment of design stage that results in interim certificate and assessment after post construction that will result in the issue of the final certificate and thus awarding of rating. The developments are certified and rated on the basis of Unclassified (less than 30%), more than 30% is considered as Pass, more than 45% is considered as Good, more than 55% is considered as very good, more than 70% is considered as excellent and outstanding (more than 85%). The benchmarks of the BREEAM ratings enable the stakeholders or the clients to compare the performance of the building along with some rated buildings of BREEAM and improve the performance towards sustainability of the buildings that are non-domestic in the UK.

Benefits of BREEAM

The application of BREEAM helps the creators and the developers to innovate, improve and use the resources effectively. The main focus on the efficiency and the sustainable value that makes the certified BREEAM development an attractive property and sustainable environment is generated that helps in enhancing the wellbeing of peoples who work and live together. To meet the enhanced building standard of the BREEM is that will include the cost of the structure, taking sustainable development into consideration (Thaickavil and Thomas, 2019.). However, reduction in the operational cost helps in limiting the developer and investor risks in the future building, more attractive buildings to retain or sell and a healthier workplace is created.

The certified BREEAM rating represents the performance that is achieved by the project and the stakeholder associated with it, as measured according to the standards of BREEAM and the benchmarks. These ratings will bring comparison between the projects and assurance of the performance is provided. This provides the value and the quality of the asset. The certification of BREEAM involves the assessment being validated by the impartial experts called as BREEAM Assessors. The BREEAM Assessors are generally licensed and qualified in order to ensure that the performance and the quality of the BREEAM specifications are satisfied. The assessment also undergoes a “Quality Audit” check from the impartial certification body, “BRE Global Ltd.” and independent third party that is accredited.

How is it implemented?

  • A licensed BREEAM assessor is found out
  • The project is registered
  • The assessment is undertaken
  • Quality Assurance Check of the assessment
  • Certification

Attenborough Natural Reserve

The “Attenborough nature reserve” is a natural reserve which is situated at Attenborough, Nottinghamshire in England. It is located 4.3 mi (7km) of Nottingham city center in the south west direction. It was established in 1966. This amazing place was opened by Sir David Attenborough. From the managerial aspect, it was managed by the “Nottinghamshire WildlifeTrust”. It is owned by Nottinghamshire wildlife. As a support system Broxtowe Borough Council is there to support. Between 1929 and 1967 this site was used as a gravel pit. Lately it is owned by the CEMEX. CEMEX is also a gravel extracting company. In the year 2010, this area was called “Thrumpton’s Land”. After the completion of earlier phases of work, in 1966 the reserve was built. Sir David Attenborough was the broadcaster and the naturalist, who opened the natural reserve. Almost about 145 hectares of the lake was covered by the natural reserve, wetland, shruband grassland with other natural curves available in the area. It is situated at the meeting area of tworivers Erewash and the Trent (Kryvomaz et al, 2019). One can see many ponds which are available there. Which are mainly made from the floods happening to the nearest areas. These are also known as clifton pond, church pond, main pond, Beeston pond, twin pond, etc. There are also many areas of dried scrub, grassland like corbetts meadow and Erewash field. Here one can see many rare types of plant and forest and forest based old cultures which are often called Native American’s places, like willow and woodland. One can see significant numbers of wintering shovelers and bitterns in the gravel pits. Many breeding birds live in this area. There are almost 250 bird species that have lived in that area since 1966. Many rare birds and bird species can be seen in this area, like penduline, squacco and purple heron as well as the sora (Ding et al, 2018). The nature center of Attenborough provides many kinds of facilities such as education, market, places for refreshment and reserves for parking cars.

Construction of Attenborough Natural Reserve

Material Specification

The materials are being specified that are to be used in the construction of the building. The guidance and the advice of the following publications are followed by the architect.

“The handbook of Sustainable Building”

“The National Building Specification Greening Report”

“The Green Guide to Specification”


Due to poor ground condition, angered piles made of concrete of diameter 300mm is generally used. During the process of installation, Augured piles are more preferred rather than the driven piles for reducing the noise pollution at the time of installation. Ground beams made of precast concrete and the “stilt support legs” that is elevating the level of the building above the 100 years of flood plain level (Cordero et al, 2019 ). Concrete is generally used for the durability purpose in the flood condition as well as it requires low level of maintenance.

Steel frame ground floor structure

The actual building is sitting over the steel frame with the help of galvanized finish. This method was chosen as it provides the construction speed and economy of material in order to achieve the minimum weight and size of the structural members. The galvanized finish must acquire the required lifespan (20- 25 years) in the steelwork process without performing re- coating.

Fixtures & Fittings

Most of the furnishings, fixtures and fittings are used in order to meet the environmental aspirations. That includes–

  • The furniture of the office are bought second hand
  • Conference and coffee room furniture– Tables are made from the offcuts or other products. Recyclable solid timbers are also used for the process.
  • Notice Boards are made with the use of recycled timber.

The super insulated building envelope is typically 300- 350 mm thick. The walls are highly insulated. The roof and floor minimizes the heat requirement, thus resulting in the overall loss of head of about 15kW from the whole structure (Stasiak-Betlejewskaand Nedeliaková, 2019). The generation of electricity occurs with the help of “photovoltaic panels” that are facing towards the south producing electrical output of about 11kW, which is the peak value. The electric grid was connected to the building.

The heat pump is used for the hot water and heating purpose. Low grade heat is taken from the lake by the circulation of water. However, this pipework helps in carrying the pure water and anti- freeze water. However, the effect of this pipework on the temperature of the lake is negligible.

The building has been specified in order to achieve “very good rating” according to the specification of the BREEAM. Some additional features of the environment have been included that include the space for storage purposes and some facilities for the recycling of the waste materials (Romano and Riediger, 2019). In order to achieve much daylight in all the rooms the sizes of the windows are properly calculated which reduces the requirement of using artificial lighting. During the winter time thus maximize the solar heat gain.

Ground Floor

On the frame of the steel, the software joists are being sited. The source of the timber is from FSC. In all the areas 300mm of “Rockwool insulation” is being used. For protecting the timber against rot, it is treated with borates. The borates are also acts as fire resistant. The floor at the ground is provided with the cement fiber that is fire and water resistant and rots proof which is maintenance free.

Wall construction

A wall with panel construction with the use of softwood timbers. Externally the walls are clad with the use of natural oak boarding. The thick wall cavity of 300mm was filled with Rockwool insulation of thickness 300mm (Serrano-Baena et al, 2020). The walls are lined internally with the taped, filed and plasterboard.

Pitched Roof Structure

The support beams are produced with the use of engineering timber. Engineering timbers are used for the construction of large spans that are not suitable with softwood.

Construction Method

Near The floodplain area of the “SSSI” and “River Trent”, the building is situated which is the natural reserve. Of the construction method mostly focuses on limiting the impact of the environment by maximizing the construction and prefabrication offshore in order to reduce the time taken on the site.

Fig 1: Attenborough Building

(Source: https://www.cibsejournal.com/case-studies/creature-comforts-david-attenborough-building-cambridge/ )

Example Building

How does it differ from Attenborough Natural Reserve?

One Angle square is a High quality office space that designed to generate maximum flexibility. The building structure mainly occupied to reorganize sub divide space and accommodations. This building comes under a outstanding score in the BREEAM rating system. It also create a new national benchmark in commercial sector. The building project has been design to reduce 50 percent of energy consumption. It will generate a comparison in the carbon emission process. Therefore, operating cost will also be reduced (Liu et al, 2019). There is a groundbreaking engineering has been included to minimize heat and generate a fresh air. In this project thermal mass concrete use to soaked up heat and that helps to cool the building. With the help of 3DReid, a recycle system has been used to store the water. It is designed to improve the issues that are related to global warming and to protect from the predicted weather in 2050. The building maintained sustainability principles that help to maintain sustainability in the environment. In this project thermal sponge are also used to soak up heat and reduce the energy to lower the temperature of the building. Therefore, it can be used to make a difference with the Attenborough Natural reserve (Hong et al, 2021).

Figure 2: One Angel square building structure

(Source: www.archdaily.com)

HMP Thameside is known as a belmarsh west and provides B category prison. The prison’s maximum capacity was 900 and it covers 7 hectares. The building has a 4 story living unit building that comes under 600 prison cells. There are five accommodation wings associated with the dining space. There also has some facilities that include a kitchen, sports hall, health and educational unit and training workshops. This is the first prison building that will comes under a outstanding rating as per BREEAM rating system. HMP Thameside building regulates 45 percent less energy that will help to maintain sustainability (Ferrari et al, 2021). The building management system will monitor the facility process to restore energy. The air handling system also used to reduce the heat. In this project a heat pump also installed that reduce the demanded volume. Sensor light system has been uses to optimize the low lighting system and has daylight sensors. The project was promoted to generate a surrounded benefit to promote local employment. It will add some air handling equipment that recovers 75 percent energy. Heat pumps are added in the server rooms that added some cooling system to constant ventilation system.

Figure 3: HMP Thameside area


“BREEAM” technology has been used in many different areas of construction and design. Areas of different “BREEAM” criteria, like “BREEAM” Industrial, “BREEAM” retail, “BREEAM” multi-residential, “BREEAM” courts, “BREEAM” other buildings, “BREEAM” International Offices etc are being used.

There are many examples of each criterion that one can see. In BREEAM used buildings are, “Five pancras Square”, Bent civic offices, the environmental and sustainability institute, Harrogate international center, University of St Andrews, BMS Annexe.

“Five Pancras Square” is one of the examples of BREEM used sustainable constructions. The assessor of the huge construction is Grontmij Ltd (Carvalho et al, 2020). the score of these building is 93.05 with an outstanding rating on the building criteria. One of the clients or developers of this mesmerized construction is king Cross Central General partner Ltd. the most renowned name of the architecture part of this building is Bennetts Associates and LA Architects. As a constructor of this building one can say the name kier construction limited.

When it comes to nature, one of the most sustainable amazing works can be seen in the Attenborough Nature Reserve. Here are many things available which cannot be seen in any other places. This place contains The Nature Center with raised walkway, a winter nature trail, and nature center viewpoints, also a picnic spot containing outstanding nature view. This place also has many rare birds gazing on the sites of naturally created lakes, like Canada geese swimming in line, Egyptian and Canada geese together.

The “Five Pancras Square'' is known as the new headquarters situated in the London Borough, Camden (Hubbard and Hubbard, 2019). This place facilitates many beautiful dream houses, leisure facilities of the state of the art that might have several pools and centers for practicing fitness, with an amazing library and also a stunning cafe as well as the access center for the customer and offices for the administrative. 

The building is situated a little away from “King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations”, on the really mesmerizing scenarios “Pancras Square”. In the UK this building is one of the greenest public buildings. This is one of Camden’s most accessible leisure centers. This place also has been nominated and also wins the Prime Minister's 2015 award for constructed better buildings. Here one can also have the facility to showcase their own art or talent in the public art area of this building (Dinh and Dinh, 2021). This public art is nominated for the Turner prizes.

Both of the places, the “Attenborough Nature Reserve” and The “Five Pancras Square” are absolute stunning creations of their own. Besides many similarities in the way of construction there are so many differences one can see. The “Attenborough Nature Reserve” is a huge area created mainly with nature interventions. This is a grabel throwing pit, which was maintained by the authorities. This place is evaluated from time to time. At first it was the site from where basic ingredients like soil had been collected. There are not many accommodations available. Whereas the five pancras square is filled with many accommodations created for humans to stay, work or relax. 

Improvement measures to get excellent criteria

The sustainable features that are being incorporated in “One Angel Square” that helps in 50% reduction in the consumption of energy and a reduction of 80% in the emission of carbon. With the combined system of power and heat “CHP” the requirement of energy for the building is fulfilled. At the own farm of the Cooperative, there was a production of rapeseed oil. With the use of the absorption chiller, the CHP units help in cooling (Pons-Valladares and Nikolic, 2020). The feature of the building is 300,000ft2 of the exposed structure of the concrete that is acting as the thermal sponge. The heat produced in the building is absorbed by the concrete, thus resulting in a lesser amount of energy required in order to cool the building. During the process of construction the project has generated about 4000 jobs. The system of ventilation is one of the important features of the building. The central part of the building is formed by the atrium that is the part of the ventilation system. About three tubes for concrete are located at every corner of the atrium. In the front part of the building, 50m3/s fresh air is sucked by the tubes from the open spaces. Through the system of displacement, the air is being heated or cooled in the basement before delivering it to the atrium (Daoud et al, 2022). The movement of air is through several floors with the help of an atrium that travels to the level of their roof before ejection. A sensor for carbon dioxide measurement is equipped in the building that facilitates the quantity of fresh air circulating around the building. Thus, it is reducing the quantity of air that requires any type of treatment. The harvesting system of greywater and the rainwater ensures consumption of low amounts of water through the “One Angel Square”.

On the base of the “Five Pancras Square” building, the acoustic devices are provided, under the commission of Sandy Brown. The requirements of the acoustic system in the “Five Pancras Square” are as follows. A proper level of speech privacy is achieved between the open office system plan and the cellular spaces (Saraiva et al,2019). Noise is controlled from the building services (Sartori et al, 2021). In the meeting room the reverberation is ensured that will not affect the speech intelligibility or that might cause excessive noise production.

Acoustic features of the “Five Pancras Square” are as follows. There are mainly two features that are affecting the BREEAM rating of the building. This involves:

  • The environmental quality at the indoors i.e, the acoustic performance of the building
  • The emission of noise produced in the building to the outside environment.

At first, the acoustic quality inside the building– a large number of factors exist that is affecting the performance of the open office system plan. The layouts of the work stations and the spacing are included in the structure of the office, the way the people are behaving in the location and the space, the character and the level of noise that is generated by the equipment of the office like photocopiers or phones. The acoustic finishes in the ceiling are necessary to considered as it is the only way to eliminate the speech level and the unwanted sound (Krueger et al, 2019). The assessment of reverberation control, mechanical noise services, insulation of airborne sound are in order to make sure that the office works are not to be disrupted by the onsite activities in the leisure center. Within the area of the gym, the ceiling that absorbs the sound is used to help in reduction of the reverberation within the spaces.


This study is based on the knowledge of sustainable methods of construction. This includes the use of plastic materials and other recyclable materials in the construction of the structure of the building. Thus helps in reduction of pollution by reducing the amount of CO2 emission. However, this can be achieved with the help of wood, alternate brick and sustainable concrete. The bricks are generally manufactured without the use of a kiln that helps in reduction of huge amounts of carbon emission. The main aim of building construction is such that it can serve the lifespan. However, using plastic has various benefits like it will not be degraded over time and maintenance cost of the building structure will be saved and it also provides strength to the structure. The different buildings in the UK are rated on the basis of the BREEAM system. The BREEAM system mainly focuses on sustainable assessment. This includes ecology, land use, energy, water, pollution etc. The “Attenborough nature reserve” is a nature reserve that uses the BREEAM assessment criteria. The BREEAM is also used in buildings like five pancras Square, One Angel Square building, Bent civic offices, the environmental and sustainability institute. Many steps are taken for the improvement to get the excellent criteria of the BREEAM ratings. The “Attenborough Nature Reserve '' and The “Five Pancras Square” are one of the stunning creations. Besides many similarities in the way of construction there are so many differences that can be seen.

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