The architect behind the UK’s first commercial building using bricks made from hemp lime has been tasked with developing a sustainable design strategy for BAM Construct.
Nitesh Magdani joined the company after 11 years at Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, where he designed the Adnams Distribution Centre in Suffolk, the UK’s first hemp-built commercial project.
Mr Magdani also designed Marks & Spencer’s sustainable flagship store, due to open in the summer of 2012. He said the retail chain approached him on the back of his work for Adnams.
As well as promoting sustainable design within the BAM Design office, Mr Magdani will be charged with leading sustainable design in the Bam Construct and Properties offices.
Mr Magdani will contribute to the group’s bidding process and will inform design and project teams on Sustainability issues, developments and new-concept building formats.
He said: “Often with sustainable design you have to rely on a client that has the foresight to look further down the line so they can see that there will be a real reduction in energy and costs.
“My brief with BAM Construct is to ensure we become leaders in sustainable design and I am reviewing some of the sites and looking at the market to see where our competition is.”
Mr Magdani will work with Constructing Excellence on a study of zero-carbon retrofit for schools. He said the group is also looking at office parks to set a target of building a zero-carbon office.
Among the recent contract awards for BAM Construct has been a £20 million deal to build a 200-bed eco-friendly hotel at the University of Nottingham.
The group will develop the hotel to incorporate solar photovoltaic panels and ground-sourced heat technology, and a lower energy assisted-cooling ventilation system.
In its sustainability report released last month, the contractor said it diverted 85 per cent of waste from landfill in 2010 and that it was ramping up its demands for environmental credentials from its supply chain.
Bam Construct environment manager Charlie Law told CN that subcontractors had to provide information on carbon, waste and fuel consumption and what they are doing with waste on sites.
Speaking about the government’s target of non-domestic buildings being zero carbon from 2019, Mr Magdani said: “It is possible to achieve by then but it is about the market catching up. There is hesitancy from developers because they might not see the benefits.
“If you can get to work with the right client then you can go a long way, but the market is not quite there yet.”
BAM Construct is currently working at Argent’s King’s Cross development. It is involved in the design, construction, extension and renovation of the Victorian Eastern Goods Yard complex of buildings to provide educational facilities for the University of the Arts, as well as office accommodation, retail areas, leisure facilities and public spaces.
Argent is reviewing whether it can upgrade its environmental credentials for the development to reach Excellent under the new BREEAM 2011 guidelines, or even whether it could feasibly reach Outstanding.
It had previously been expected to achieve Excellent under the 2008 guidelines.