Our planet is a lump of rock hurtling through space at great speed. Our atmosphere is the equivalent of a piece of tissue paper wrapped around a basketball.
Everything I do, in work and in the world, I see through this filter. I balance every situation, every client, every project, in my mind but generally my starting point is: if there is a reasonable way that we can achieve this and minimise the effect on the environment, we should do it that way. If there is not, we need to think twice about doing it at all.
I have a Masters Degree in Design Science (Sustainable Design) from Sydney University, which I finished in 2010. Following this I worked as an ESD consultant (Environmentally Sustaonable Design) for 2 years, doing Green Star submissions, BCA Section J reports, BASIX reports and BERS modelling.
I try to apply these basic rules of ecological responsibility to every project I do.
When dealing with clients who are not particularly concerned with their impact on the environment, I adjust my approach to include whatever sustainability measures I can to fulfill their brief in such a way that they can see it is the best solution.
Demolishing a building represents the discarding of someone’s time and effort, and the energy invested in the making of the materials which, more often than not, lose their function when removed from their original context.
I would always prefer to keep the existing and work with what is there, regardless of how ordinary the building, rather than demolish and start again. This is not always possible or feasible or appropriate of course.
- We enlarged the ventilation openings and added windows. In the kitchen we kept the existing breeze block ventilation opening to ventilate the cool room.
- We knocked out the walls between the brick piers and replaced them with glazing..
- We kept the 2 unmatching timber doors on site, cut them to size and reused them as toilet doors.
- We kept the old rollerdoors and used them as cladding on the new stud walls in their existing openings.
- We reused the bricks from demolition in the base of the new retaining walls.
- We kept the original wall finish and finished the original concrete slab floor.
Anything that already exists can be used at zero carbon cost.
Anything imported, regardless of its green credentials, comes at a high carbon cost due to its transportation.
It is much easier to verify the carbon credentials of locally produced materials, though they are getting increasingly scarce.
Manufactured materials with recycled content may have used more energy processing the recycled content than otherwise, but at least the process is reducing the amount of material that ends up in landfill.
At the Arthouse Kitchen we used
- Paperock, which is made in Australia of paper with 60% recycled content, on the back counter http://www.paperock.com.au/
- We used Echo Panel, acoustic panels made from 60% recycled PET on the ceiling http://www.wovenimage.com
I use timber wherever I can. Timber represents captured CO2 and the more trees we grow the more CO2 we capture.
I try to use recycled timber first as its origin does not have to be determined, and it is often better quality and more attractive, if it is going to be visible, than new timber.
We used recycled timber on the front of the counter at both the Queens Park Shed and Bar Navitas , and also at the Botanic Gardens Kiosk, where I was a contributor.
At the Queens Park Shed we also used old fence palings to enclose the rubbish area.
I always use local timber as it’s origin is easier to verify than imported timber. I feel it is important to support the local timber industry and not waste oil shipping timber around the world.
Water is a precious commodity- watch the amount of clean drinking water which goes down the drain. Would you tip a bottle of San Pelligrino down the toilet 4 times a day? Grey water systems mean that at least you use the water twice instead of once, so that the water out of your washing machine is used to flush the toilet for example.
Sometimes this precious commodity falls out of the sky for free – why not capture it and store it?
PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
Energy from the sun falls out of the sky free of charge, so it seems logical to me to use it whenever its possible where heating is required, which is mainly in houses.
Think ahead and try to minimise the amount of energy a building will consume in its lifetime. Energy bills are going to continue to increase so even clients who are not interested in sustainability may get concerned about their hip pocket in the future.
Use daylighting cleverly
Use LED lighting
Assume the building will never be air conditioned and look at other ways to keep it cool – completely exclude the sun in summer, allow for cross ventilation, install sweep fans in living areas etc.
Think about how and where solar panels could be installed; their orientation, exposure to the sun and how and from where they would be controlled.
FITTINGS, FIXTURES AND FURNITURE
Buying local products or having things made locally provides employment for our neighbours and develops local skills, the local economy and the local community.
Fewer and fewer manufactured goods are being produced in Australia however, which forces us to look at the next least worst option.
At the Arthouse Kitchen
- we used all prefabricated standardised stainless steel units in the kitchen so they can be easily removed and relocated if ever the Arthouse Kitchen is demolished.
- We also used secondhand steel frames which were headed to landfill, repurposed as the back counter and overhead storage shelves.
- We bought all secondhand furniture regardless of the fact that new cafe furniture is currently extremely cheap and readily available
At Bar Navitas we had the front counter made locally out of terrazzo (instead of imported stone) and fixed it in place in such a way that it can be removed in one piece, to maximise the chance that such a beautiful object can be repurposed when the cafe is demolished.
Wow. I could go on…..