Sandwood does not pretend to be a ‘green’ company, any more than construction can be considered an environmentally friendly operation. Along with the majority of people however, we are convinced by the case for global warming, and recognise that this is not the only environmental problem that needs to be addressed. We feel that everyone and every organisation has a responsibilty to contribute to finding solutions. The following are some of the steps we are taking to address these issues.
Understanding – before we can design and build environmentally friendly buildings we need to understand what makes a ‘green’ building. How does an environmentally friendly product shipped half way round the world compare to a less environmentally product sourced locally? What is the most effective renewable technology for a given site? Should we be looking at low flush WCs, flow restrictions or small baths before grey water recycling; cavity insulation and build quality before wind turbines?
We have tried to improve our level of understanding by becoming one of the few contractor members of the Green Register and being one of the first to sign up for the UK Green Building Council. We have held on site training events for our staff, clients and contractors and have actively sought opportunities to become involved in sustainable projects.
Waste Management – waste management starts in our offices with paper and cardboard recycling and is being extended through the company via our in house waste management working group, which brings together people from all areas of the company.
Procurement – we are one of the very few contractors to hold Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody. Sandwood are the only company to construct two new buildings that qualifies as an FSC labelled product. Our experiences on these projects (Boatemah Walk and Angela Carter Close) were used to develop the less onerous standards for the “FSC Project” status that has been introduced recently. Sandwood will continue to work to the higher standards.
Innovation and Development – we believe the best way to learn about sustainable techniques and processes is to implement them, so we encourage their use on all our schemes. To date, apart from the use of FSC timber noted above, our schemes have included photovoltaic roofs, solar thermal, CHP, organic paints and rainwater harvesting. We are particularly keen to use ground source heat pump technology on future schemes. We started air permeability testing before it became a requirement and are looking to revise construction details in a number of areas to secure improvements.
EcoHomes/Code for Sustainable Homes – we have our own in-house EcoHomes and Code for Sustainable Homes assessors and have achieved an ‘Excellent’ rating on five projects to date – Boatemah Walk, 432 Merton Road, 143-149 Merton Road, Angela Carter Close and Rossiter Grove (St Johns Crescent).
We are also able to provide the services of a BRE-certified On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor (OCDEA) assessor and we are currently working on a number of Code for Sustainable Homes schemes. Our aim is to make Level 3 our standard output, with higher levels achieved where required. Achieving Level 3 of the Code will be more challenging and has led to the establishment of SDB Environmental, our complete in-house sustainability service. To find out more about what SDB Environmental can do for you, please click here.