Environmental projects and campaigns
Building environmental standards
Buildings are responsibility for almost half the UK’s carbon emissions – from their construction, maintenance and demolition, to the energy needed to heat them, light them and power the equipment inside them, there is a carbon cost at every stage. The construction industry also uses large quantities of natural resources and creates large amounts of waste.
Careful design and construction can minimise these costs to the environment in a number of ways. In February 2012, Calderdale Council adopted a set of Building Environmental Standards applicable to all new buildings and refurbishments on the Council’s own estate. Projects with a capital cost of £500,000 or more are required to undergo an external assessment called BREEAM – the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Methodology. This is the most widely-recognised voluntary environmental standard in the UK. Smaller projects apply an internal checklist which covers six key areas:
- Energy: designing for low energy use, energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy
- Water: water conservation and recycling, minimising flood risk and surface water pollution, managing ground conditions
- Biodiversity: site assessment, species protection and habitat enhancement
- Materials: construction materials, fixtures and fittings, paints and finishes
- Waste: construction and demolition waste, designing for waste minimisation in use
- Travel: car parking, walking and cycling.
Current and recent projects
The two new swimming pools at Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge have undergone a full BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Methodology) assessment with Sowerby Pool achieving 'Very Good' and Brighouse Pool achieving 'Good'.
The straw bale extension to Shelf Village Hall, which houses the new Shelf library, was opened on 14 May 2009.
The walls of the building are made from straw bales with a natural lime render finish, and the library also has a green roof planted with sedum. Straw bales are an excellent building material, as they are lightweight, easy to use and inexpensive. They also provide high levels of insulation and have a low embodied energy, which makes them a very good environmental choice.
The Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) rates buildings in terms of their environmental credentials.