Vox is a £70m build-to-rent scheme project that has transformed a disused industrial site into a highly-sustainable development, which will undoubtedly spearhead further regeneration in this area of Manchester.
The health and wellbeing of its residents has very much influenced the design and fit-out of the 280 rental apartments, from the inclusion of a 130-metre running track on the 15th floor to the location of the shared areas located on the rooftop to maximise sunlight and views.
Glenbrook recognise that good building design moves beyond meeting the comfort and wellbeing of residents. Now, more than ever before, developers must also consider how they can help reduce the human impact on the environment, underlined by the clear focus investors are placing on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors within their portfolios.
For our net-zero benchmarking study on Glenbrook’s Vox development, our challenge was to review the existing, high-performing design principles and take an even more forensic approach to evidence the whole life embodied carbon footprint of the scheme to inform their future design principles.
Hydrock’s Smart Energy & Sustainability team delivered a comprehensive, whole lifecycle carbon assessment for Glenbrook at VOX. Having transformed a brownfield site into a highly-sustainable development, Vox already surpasses the requirements of existing building regulations and generic operational energy modelling (heating, cooling, powering, etc), due to its high-performance building fabric and efficient shape.
However, Hydrock’s role was to delve deeper to evidence the ‘real life’ embodied carbon footprint (including extraction, assembly, maintenance, replacement and disposal) of the materials and systems that make-up the developer’s archetypal building design, from cradle to grave. We used the well-established London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) benchmark and established how Glenbrook could reduce the carbon footprint of their developments still further to have a major influence on their future projects to reach net zero targets as a developer focused on their ESG credentials.
Above and beyond the efficiencies of the building fabric and the complete use of electricity, our studies revealed that efficiencies had been achieved with respect to reducing embodied carbon in the phasing of the construction of Vox. For the superstructure, we identified by laying the slabs earlier and allowing for settlement, it streamlined the volume of aggregates, consequently reducing materials and the resultant embodied carbon.
In addition, our studies helped to guide Glenbrook on the opportunities that could be achieved through increased use of renewable energy, a greater focus on occupancy behaviour to eliminate what is referred to as the ‘performance gap’ between energy use in the design model and in real-life usage, and the value of benchmarking against industry standards which help shape how to offset emissions off-site when further on-site reductions are challenging due to the density of the scheme.
The study revealed that a further 24% reduction in whole-life emissions could be achieved and together with Glenbrook we’ve produced a design guide as a blueprint for more efficient building design which will direct their holistic strategy to achieve net-zero emissions.
As part of raising awareness of these positive outcomes, our Divisional Director of Smart Energy and Sustainability, Josh Bullard, joined Glenbrook’s highly-acclaimed real estate podcast to discuss practical approaches to improving embodied and operational carbon in the built environment.