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Ska Fit-Out

15 October 2010

Proving that the traditionally wasteful process of fitting out offices can be sustainabile, Kevin Goldsmith tracks Pringle Brandon’s work for the Band of China’s HQ building in the City of London

OCCUPIERS OF PROPERTY are becoming increasingly concerned with the sustainability credentials of their premises. Offices, and headquarters even more so, make a statement to staff and clients and so, in the fit-out of new buildings, the environmental factor plays an ever more prominent part. One occupier that is taking this seriously is Bank of China (BoC), one of the world’s top-ten banks.
Athough it opened its first foreign branch in Britain 1929, it has had, until very recently, a very low profile outside China. That all changed with its purchase late last year of a new headquarters building at 1 Lothbury in the heart of the City of London, close to the Bank of England. The bank is now setting out on a course to become one of the main banks in Britain, both as one of the leading domestic mortgage lenders and for commercial customers looking to do business in China.
1 Lothbury is a new office building, built behind a retained façade of Portland stone, and is thus a set of state-of-the-art offices seated solidly in a traditional matrix. The building was developed by Welbeck Land and forward sold to Westfield Investments, then bought by Bank of China. It provides BoC with 115,000 sq ft of space spread over 10 floors. This is more than double the space occupied by the bank in its previous building in Cannon Street. BoC appointed Pringle Brandon to undertake the office fit-out at 1 Lothbury.
The brief for the interiors was to provide the bank with a state-of-the-art environment to aid the delivery of the corporation’s high quality services. The interior is designed to reflect the corporation’s traditional values of honesty and integrity, performance, accountability, creativity and harmoniousness. It also seeks to help present the bank’s more modern image of capability, competence and competitiveness. Last but not least, they wanted to ensure the fitout was environmentally conscious.
The new Lothbury headquarters consists of an entrance and reception, office and trading floors, meeting suites for staff and clients as well as a top floor VIP suite showcasing the bank’s art, awards and historical memorabilia.
BoC understood that having a sustainable fitout was important and wanted a rating for the fitout that would match or exceed the BREEAM Good rating the building already has. As a business, it cares about the environment and wanted to promote this through achieving demonstrable green credentials, accreditation that it could then display in all its literature. Pringle Brandon suggested the Ska Rating (see panel on page 64).
From Pringle Brandon’s perspective, the single most important initial factor was BoC’s
willingness to pursue the Ska Rating route. By embracing Ska, the system could be embedded in the very early stages, when critical design decisions are made. This in turn ensured that environmental performance, durability and maintenance were key considerations in the material, fixtures and fittings specification.
Whether you are a tenant of a single office doing a one-off fit-out or a major corporate occupier, Ska Rating is the first system designed to measure 100 percent of the sustainability of your fit-out at the same time as letting you decide what is most important. BoC itself was key to pushing forward the strategy. With the entire design team, it was involved at every stage, listened and took advice on board and as we speak the building is on track to receive a silver Ska Rating with 32 of the 68 measures achieved and a further eight being targeted.
A 100 percent of the waste measures have been achieved, with all waste being segregated and over 85 percent being diverted from landfill.
An initial aspect was the intention to reuse as many of the existing ceiling tiles as possible, along with decreased use of dry wall systems and the integration of demountable partitions to give flexibility and avoid future wastage. Strip out of ceiling tiles and flooring was unavoidable on some floors, although it was kept to a minimum and as much was reused as possible. The rest was segmented and recycled.
For the installation of new ceilings, there was careful selection of materials and consultants – all had to be on board for Ska to be sustainable.
Materials were mostly sourced from Europe to minimise the carbon footprint created by haulage and transport costs. And suppliers and consultants had to have a sustainability policy and a recycling and environment policy that adhered to ISO 14001. Where possible, as much of the existing material was kept and reused.
Longer term, the client has really pushed the recycling scheme for staff going forward by taking away their bins and having recycle bins in key areas on office floors and other areas, as well as planning to introduce recycling training forstaff.
Another early aspect of the sustainable design included light fittings and LEDs as well as motion detectors and light sensors to ensure energy is only used when needed.
The project has used a substantial amount of timber and all of it, including that used by subcontractors and trades, is certified with full chains of custody by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which runs a global forest certification system and allows consumers and purchasers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests. Additionally, water consumption is being reduced by specifying urinal controls, WC’s with low flush and taps with low flow rates.
There are always challenges. In this case, they included relatively minor items such as taking away staff bins and individual printers, and the introduction of copy points to minimise wastage.
Management accepts that part of its responsibility is to educate staff and to ensure that sustainable policies are not only put in place, but adhered to as well.
A key facet of the Ska Rating is that it is live and can be assessed at regular intervals post occupancy to ensure that the measures put in place are living up to expectation and delivering the reduction in C02 emissions that were intended. To help ensure future energy efficiencies in operation, the client has a handbook provided by Pringle Brandon and Ska with instructions on how to keep the building energy efficient, a key resource for the FM team.
Kevin Goldsmith of Pringle Brandon, an architectural practice and workplace consultant based in the City of London working throughout Europe and the Middle East. He is one of the first Ska assessors

Ska is an environmental labelling method initiated and promoted by the RICS, designed to rate and compare the environmental performance of fit-out projects, initially for office buildings in the UK. The fit out sector is currently underserved with specific benchmarks and labelling although it is a substantial part of the construction industry. Ska Rating is intended to fill this gap. The UK construction industry spent £64.5bn in the years 2003-06; of this £6.9bn was attributed to the fit-out sector. This represents 10 percent of the construction sector budget. (Source: Office for National Statistics).
The Ska Rating process looks at 99 ‘good practice points’ spread over a number of fit-out aspects including energy, materials, pollution, transport, waste, water and health. The points are rated in relative importance: thus point 1 is the reduction of energy use and CO2 emissions; and point 2 relates to a demolition salvage plan; while point 98 is refrigerant recovery and 99 is CO2 monitoring. Projects must achieve a minimum number of higher rated measures – known as the ‘gateway measures’ to achieve a successful rating. Not all the 99 points are relevant to all projects. Therefore a number of points are extracted from the list and apply to the particular project. These are known as the ‘measures in scope’. Projects are rated Gold, Silver and Bronze, plus their particular percentage score. Ska Rating takes place at the three stages of a fit-out project: at design and planning, where the ‘measures in scope’ can be indentified; at the delivery and construction stage, which involves proving that what was specified is actually being delivered and built; at the post-occupancy stage, where the fit-out is assessed and reviewed as to how far it has performed against the original brief.
This might take place a year after completion. Developed by industry for industry, Ska Rating is designed to encourage good practice in fit out work and has been developed collaboratively by consultants, contractors and

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