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Embracing the Circular Economy

Sustainable design is embedded in everything we do as a practice, and forms one of our core values. 

But sustainable design goes far beyond renewable energy and low or zero carbon technologies. It is also about embracing the Circular Economy: reducing waste and reusing what we have, rather than just dumping it and sending it off to landfill.

It may seem counterintuitive to retain equipment and systems that are not as energy efficient as the latest on the market, but could it actually be more sustainable to keep what is already installed and improve wherever possible, rather than simply writing it off and throwing it away? 

For us at Energylab, we always examine what is already constructed and installed, and ask ourselves the question ‘how can we make that work better?’. While in some cases the systems will genuinely be at end of life and so replacing it is the only option, in many instances there is a strong argument for retaining what already exists, rather than just sweeping in a replacement.

In other instances the building might be being repurposed, in which case replacing the system will often be unavoidable. But while there will be an element of waste in this process, through retaining and refurbishing the building rather than simply demolishing it and starting again, a lot less waste is generated overall. 

Currently the construction industry generates a third of all waste in the UK, and this is set to triple by 2100. Only through repurposing and reusing existing materials and buildings can we start to reduce the amount of waste within the industry.

At Energylab we are particularly proud of the work we have done in helping to repurpose previously unloved or no longer fit for purpose buildings, helping to prevent demolition and, subsequently, reduce waste. 

For example, we have helped repurpose former factories and car parks into commercial offices. We have also worked on a number of buildings which are not ‘historic’ in the traditional sense but still have fantastic architectural features or are from a particular architectural era, such as a number of Art Deco buildings, which have their own challenges in relation to thermal performance! 

Sustainable design is clearly a subject we are passionate about, and this is just a brief snapshot of our experience in this area. If you want to know more about what we do, please do give us a call or drop us a line – we would love to share our stories!

(Image credit: Sustainability Guide)

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