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Sustainable design is cost-effective, says Atkins

by Gerhard Hope on Oct 20, 2010

Richard Smith from Atkins
Richard Smith from Atkins

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The perception that sustainable design is not cost-effective is a misnomer, said Richard Smith, group chair: carbon critical buildings, Atkins. Smith was speaking at the World Architecture Congress at Cityscape Global 2010.

“It is partly to do with practice. We as a practice are about ten sustainable projects in. We have done many more than that, but have had ten learning experiences from one to the next. After that you start to work out how to come up with sustainable solutions that do not necessarily cost so much,” said Smith.

“But to expect everyone to be doing that on every project is a big ask. A lot of education and technique is needed, and the industry from what I can see is struggling to learn how to provide that. It is an evolution, but it is not going to happen quickly.

“If we look at the cost-effectiveness of sustainable projects, we are seeing up to 8% more capital investment for the top end, the outstanding or Platinum-type projects. If we go to the other end and we do good passive design, work on efficiency and we take those trade offs, we are seeing up to 3% to 4% less at LEED Silver level.

“But at the end of it, with the rating systems and all the tools we have to guide us, there is no substitute for good design, and good design turns out to be sustainable,” said Smith.

Read the full sustainable infrastructure debate in the November issue of MEP Middle East.


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