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Wed January 20 2021

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Architects target zero-carbon fit-out

22 Oct 20 Architects Perkins & Will and Penoyre & Prasad have committed to ensuring that their internal fit-outs of offices and commercial property will be net-zero carbon by 2030.

From November 2020 the combined London practice will offer, as standard, a net-zero embodied carbon or circular design strategy up to RIBA Stage 2.

As part of the drive, the London studio of Perkins & Will, which includes Penoyre & Prasad, is talking to contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to get their supply chains to meet the  net-zero carbon targets.

Sunand Prasad, co-founder of Penoyre & Prasad, said: “The cycle of replacing fit-out with brand new materials every few years generates massive waste and carbon emissions. New ways of designing and constructing interiors are urgently needed, but they also offer exciting innovation challenges. Rather than seeing energy, carbon and waste as compliance issues that increase costs and inhibit the imagination, we need to harness creativity and technology to bring zero carbon and the circular economy into the world of fit-out.”

Perkins & Will has produced a sustainability manifesto, Net-Zero Now, setting out targets to ensure fit-out projects align with its net-zero commitment.

It aims to address the gap between organisations’ corporate net-zero promises and the reality of their building stock. According to The Crown Estates’ Sustainability Fit Out Guide for Offices, interior fit-out is responsible for 40% of energy in a building, while research from Rype Office suggests 300 tonnes of fit-out waste goes to landfill every day. Furthermore, furniture from natural resources contributes to 30% of the carbon footprint of a commercial building over its entire life.

Shortening lease lengths in the commercial office sector indicate that flexibility in design and circular design principles are becoming more critical to waste reduction and that the full life cycle carbon impact of our resources must be considered, the architects said.

To achieve net-zero embodied carbon target, the architects will promote sustainable resources and re-used materials that can be later re-used elsewhere too, on a circular economy basis.

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By the end of 2021, half of the projects will be designed to be 100% circular. By 2025, all projects will be designed to be 100% circular, they say. And by 2030, all projects will be net-zero embodied carbon as demonstrated through a whole life carbon assessment, the firm promises.

The net-zero carbon interiors plan follows the firm’s architectural net-zero operational carbon pledge made at the end of 2019. Since January 2020, the London practice has delivered a zero operational carbon strategy report for each new build or retrofit project within the RIBA Stage 2 of the design, at no additional cost to the client.

Adam Strudwick, principal at Perkins & Will, said: “Building on our 2019 net-zero architecture pledge, this net-zero carbon interiors pledge is the next stage in achieving our goal of delivering net-zero embodied carbon buildings.

“By focusing on the continuous use of resource, circular design principles and supply chain engagement our team will be pivoting to design projects in a new way that will enable us to reach this goal. It is critical that change happens now.”

Steven Charlton, principal and managing director at Perkins & Will, added: “Many of our clients have already committed to being carbon neutral or negative and as such we have a responsibility to help them on this journey. Fit-out is responsible for nearly 40% of carbon in a building, and efforts must be made to reduce this. We believe that innovative design can play a fundamental role in significantly reducing this footprint by creating places that are truly energy efficient from cradle to grave.

“As with all big aspirations, this is work in progress, but this is the next step towards changing our futures. This manifesto provides us with a clear plan to achieve our net-zero embodied carbon target for interiors. It incorporates key milestones which we will use to track our progress along the way. We are committed to this pledge, and I hope that as we engage more with our clients and industry partners, we can develop and increase the presence of net-zero carbon buildings across the country.”

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