25 September 2018

Planning permission for tricky sites – we can help!

Applying for planning permission can be tough to navigate. Applying for planning permission for tricky sites – for example agricultural land, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a national park or the green belt – can be even more difficult.

And with just under 1/5th of the UK designated as AONB, it's important your architect understands the implications and specific policy relating to these sites.

The team at Koru Architects has more than 30 years’ combined experience building homes and renovating properties throughout Sussex and further afield, including many projects in conservation areas. In fact, one of our key specialities is using sensitive design to win planning approval in restricted places.

We have a 95% success rate in winning planning approval, including planning permission for tricky sites.

planning permission for tricky sites, koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings,

This extension was approved in the High Weald, an AONB in the green belt.

As specialists in eco architecture and sustainable design, we build low energy concepts into our designs as standard. All our designs take into account environmental impact and energy efficiency. This makes us popular with planners! Ultimately, it’s up to the client how 'green' they want to make their home, but we always incorporate effortless energy-efficient solutions into our designs, for example by making the most of passive solar gain to keep your home warm.

Of course, it’s not just energy-efficiency that gets you planning permission for tricky sites.

This is why it’s important to work with an architect – our experience is invaluable in understanding what planners are likely to permit, taking into account the subjective nature of planning approval and using our knowledge of local planning policy and the national policy it is based on.

For example, a contemporary design – which you may assume is an immediate no-no in a sensitive site – can be sold to planners through contextual features, such as using traditional local materials, taking inspiration from the site’s history, or using the form of the site’s natural elements to blend into the landscape.

These contextual features, coupled with a low carbon design assure planners that the new design will be a comfortable enhancement of the site.

For more information on how we use contextual design, see this blog post.

Many of our happy clients have had to overcome planning headaches, but with our expertise and lateral thinking, plus our reputation for creative use of light and space, attention to detail and the careful selection of natural materials, we have achieved our extremely high success rate for planning permission approval.

Even if you've been unlucky in past, we may just be able to swing it for you!


Give us a call or send an email to see how we can help you!

 

 

21 September 2018

Benefits of Green Buildings: part 3 – social benefits

As World Green Building Week 2018 approaches (24 - 30 Sep), we thought we’d share some of the most recent research on the social benefits of green buildings. This post is part of a series which will explain why we should all be aiming to ‘green’ our buildings, and furthermore, why we should be pushing government policy in this direction too.

It’s not just the planet that will benefit from going green, there are economic and social benefits of green buildings as well as the more obvious environmental benefits. In fact, when discussing the benefits of green buildings, they are often broken down into the following three categories: environmental, economic and social. It’s for this reason that some people refer to these buildings as ‘healthy buildings’ as well as green buildings. This post will focus on the social benefits.

According to the World Green Building Council: “[green buildings] provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.

First of all, we should define what we mean by green buildings. Green buildings have been built from a sustainable design, also known as eco design. This means all facets of the design process takes into consideration the impact the building will have, both in construction and use. The World Green Building Council defines green buildings as "a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life."

Lets look at the social benefits of green buildings.


According to a growing body of research, the most important social benefits of green buildings are the enhanced health and wellbeing of those living and working in them.

Working or studying in green buildings

social benefits of green buildings, benefits of green buildings, koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings,

Koru Architects' office - we work in a green passivhaus building with plenty of daylight.

A 2016 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (backed by United Technologies) found that those working in green-certified buildings had 26% higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green-certified.

Interestingly, the effects lasted after they had left work: employees working in green buildings had a 6% higher sleep quality compared with those working in high-performing buildings that were not green-certified.

In the same study, those working in green buildings also reported 30% fewer symptoms of ‘sick building syndrome’ – a condition typically marked by headaches and respiratory problems, attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in an office working environment, such as poor ventilation. The same team is currently undertaking a three-year study to further gather data on the impact of green buildings on cognitive function.

Backing up the sleep quality statistic above, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2013 found employees in offices with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.

We strongly believe in biophilic design and healthy school buildings, as detailed in this post. Summarising recent research, a report by Human Spaces states: “optimising exposure to daylight alone can improve school attendance by an average of 3.5 days/year and test scores by 5-14% while increasing the speed of learning by 20-26%. Trials have found that plants in classrooms can lead to improved performance in spelling, mathematics and science of 10-14%.”

Living in green buildings

Brits spend 92% of their time indoors, so healthy buildings are important. A RIBA report explains how poor design can lead to poor health: "The Building Research Establishment reported in 2010 that almost a quarter (4.8 million) of homes in England contain defects that can give rise to Category 1 hazards – hazards that can lead to serious health risks such as cardio-respiratory disease, stroke, asthma and even death caused by falls, excess cold and other events."

Estimates put the cost to the NHS of these hazards at £600 million per year, and the cost to individuals and society from loss of earnings, for example, at £1.5 billion per year.

That's a lot of avoidable illness, plus a big saving to the NHS purely from improving building standards.

And while it might seem intuitive that being in nature would have a calming influence, a 2014 study researching Japanese ‘forest bathing’ revealed these calming effects can be replicated with indoor stimulations of a natural environment – the subjects’ blood pressure and pulse rate decreased, inducing a physiological relaxation effect.

It's more important than ever that we recognise the clear environmental, economic and social benefits of green buildings, especially since the government axed the zero carbon homes policy in 2015. So, if you are thinking of refurbing or building a property, make sure you engage a green architect for a sustainable design that's good for you, your pocket and the planet.


This post is part three in a series. 

18 September 2018

Benefits of Green Buildings: part two – economic benefits

koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings, economic benefits of green buildingsAs World Green Building Week 2018 approaches (24 - 30 Sep), we thought we’d share some of the most recent research on the economic benefits of green buildings. This post is part of a series which will explain why we should all be aiming to ‘green’ our buildings, and furthermore, why we should be pushing government policy in this direction too.

It’s not just the planet that will benefit from going green, there are social and economic benefits of green buildings as well as the more obvious environmental benefits. In fact, when discussing the benefits of green buildings, they are often broken down into the following three categories: environmental, economic and social. It’s for this reason that some people refer to these buildings as ‘healthy buildings’ as well as green buildings. This post will focus on the economic benefits.

According to the World Green Building Council: “[green buildings] provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.

First of all, we should define what we mean by green buildings. Green buildings have been built from a sustainable design, also known as eco design. This means all facets of the design process takes into consideration the impact the building will have, both in construction and use. The World Green Building Council defines green buildings as "a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life."

Lets look at the economic benefits of green buildings.


Most people assume that going green comes with a financial burden, and for many years the ‘eco premium’ was common. However, there are clear and measurable economic benefits of green buildings for both developers and households. One of the primary economic benefits of green buildings is the lower cost of utility bills, as reducing energy means reducing energy costs.

According to the European Commission's 2015 report, global energy efficiency measures could save an estimated €280 to €410 billion in savings on energy spending.

koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings, economic benefits of green buildings

Koru's office and director Mark's home

On an individual level, UK households spend an average of £1630 per year on energy and water. Simply installing double glazing, low-flow showers, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation would save a 4-bedroom semi-detached household around £465 per year.

And by making your property passivhaus standard, adding renewable energy sources and rainwater harvesting you could be looking at barely any utility bills at all. We've covered this in more detail in this blog post here.

Additionally, a government report from 2013 states high levels of energy efficiency adds an average of 14% to a house's value.

Taking Koru's office and director Mark's home as an example (as we have the numbers to hand), a green building has the potential to save and even generate money – due to the (soon-to-be-abolished) feed-in-tariff and renewable heat incentive schemes, the house currently brings in income.

The rainwater harvesting system achieves an annual saving of £200 per year. The solar PV, solar thermal and biomass boiler bring in an annual income of £1500, £650 and £1400 respectively.

When the electric bill (£400), wood pellets (£500) and water bill (£150) are subtracted, this leaves a current net annual income of £2500.

And if you're a business owner, this blog post details seven economic benefits of green buildings, including more surprising ones, like employee retention, staff productivity and PR. From a country-wide perspective, the office of national statistics stated green construction firms generated £12.4bn of turnover and employed 96,500 employees in 2016.

As you can see from the above evidence, the economic benefits of green buildings have the potential to be vast. Even small changes can yield big financial results. Go green – your pocket (and the planet) will thank you!


This post is part two in a series. 

  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part one – environmental
  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part two – economic
  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part three – social

12 September 2018

Benefits of Green Buildings: part one – environmental benefits

koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings, healthy buildings, environmental benefits of green buildings, economic benefits of green buildings, social benefits of green buildingsAs World Green Building Week 2018 approaches (24 - 30 Sep), we thought we’d share some of the most recent research on the environmental benefits of green buildings. This post is part of a series which will explain why we should all be aiming to ‘green’ our buildings, and furthermore, why we should be pushing government policy in this direction too.

It’s not just the planet that will benefit from going green, there are social and economic benefits of green buildings as well as the more obvious environmental benefits. In fact, when discussing the benefits of green buildings, they are often broken down into the following three categories: environmental, economic and social. It’s for this reason that some people refer to these buildings as ‘healthy buildings’ as well as green buildings. This post will focus on the environmental benefits of green buildings.

According to the World Green Building Council: “[green buildings] provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.

First of all, we should define what we mean by green buildings. Green buildings have been built from a sustainable design, also known as eco design. This means all facets of the design process takes into consideration the impact the building will have, both in construction and use. The World Green Building Council defines green buildings as "a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life."

Lets look at the environmental benefits of green buildings.


One of the most obvious impacts of making our buildings green is the environmental benefit. We've mentioned before that building and the construction industry accounts for 30% of global carbon emissions (and recent research is pushing that figure to closer to 40%) which means the building sector has the largest potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to other major emitting sectors (UNEP, 2009).

In fact, the emission saving potential of green buildings is thought to be as much as 84 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050 (UNEP, 2016) which would happen through direct measures in buildings such as energy efficiency, fuel switching and the use of renewable energy.

According to Citu, the average house takes between 50 and 80 tonnes of CO2 to build and emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 every year just from heating alone. But this can be improved – encouraging statistics from Australia show green-certified buildings produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings.

koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect, green architect, sustainable design, eco design, brighton, green design, green buildings, healthy buildings, environmental benefits of green buildings, economic benefits of green buildings, social benefits of green buildings

Here at Koru, we know how to build green homes: our office and director Mark's home (left) is a great example.

Due to creative use of passive solar design, high insulation and energy-efficient appliances and lighting, the building only consumes around half the energy of a typical UK household and does not produce any direct carbon emissions in use.

Moreover, during construction steps were taken to minimise the embodied carbon from its construction by specifying sustainably-sourced timber.

According to the carbon analysis company Phlorum, the embodied carbon of the building was 17 tonnes, compared with a national average of 60 tonnes.

Through its generation of clean, renewable energy (solar PV panels) it is expected to offset 41 tonnes of carbon over its life and it will only take 23 years for the house’s whole lifecycle to be carbon-neutral.

As you can see from the above evidence, the environmental benefits of green buildings are huge, and by building healthy buildings we have the potential to vastly reduce carbon emissions, both in construction and in operation.

You don't need a zero carbon home to make a difference, even small changes can yield big results. So, if you're thinking of renovating, rebuilding or extending, bear in mind that investing in a green home will massively reduce your carbon footprint. The planet will thank you!


This post is part one in a series. 

  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part one – environmental
  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part two – economic
  • Benefits of Green Buildings: part three – social

14 August 2018

The Argus, 14 August 2018

'Eco start up wins top awards for green idea' - 14 August 2018

Brighton & Hove's daily paper, The Argus, featured Koru-designed PassivPod in their business section. The article details PassivPod's double win at the National Best New Business Awards. The online version described our PassivPod design as an "amazing green pod".

Read online here.

The Argus, PassivPod, Koru Architects, Eco Architects, Brighton, Best New Business Awards, Award-Winning Architect, Hove


Keep up to date with PassivPod on Twitter @PassivPod and on the website: www.passivpod.co.uk

14 August 2018

Hove Park Living magazine, August 2018 issue

'New cafe for Hove Park' – August 2018

Hove Park Living, a free monthly magazine for residents of the Hove Park area, wrote about the plans for a new cafe at Hove Park, featuring Koru's design for the cafe.
Hove Park Cafe, Pavilion Tea House, Hove Park, Koru Architects, Eco Architects, Sustainable Architect, Brighton

Pick up your copy from selected distributors throughout August.

13 August 2018

How to save water: a guide to reducing water consumption

If you live in the UK, water may seem abundant. But those of us wanting to live a more sustainable life should be looking at ways we can save water, as treating wastewater is a very energy-intensive process of filtration, chemical treatment and pumping – usually from miles away. With a huge amount of treated, drinkable water going down the toilet (a third of our water use goes towards flushing loos), we should all be looking at how we can reduce our water consumption.

save water, reduce water consumption, koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architectIf, like us, you live in the South East of England, you may be aware that this region is particularly affected by water scarcity. And this year’s long, hot summer has only drawn more attention to the pressure on our local water sources.

So how can we help? Well, there are many ways we can reduce water consumption, starting with simple stuff we tell our toddlers (turn off the tap while brushing your teeth) to the more sophisticated (rainwater and greywater harvesting systems). This blog post is going to concentrate on some simple steps you can take to use less water in your daily life.

How to save water: our top tips

1. Taps off

Running a tap can waste a whopping nine litres of water a minute, so fill your sink for washing fruit and veg or doing the dishes, and turn it off while you’re brushing your teeth. Taking quicker showers and showering over bathing will also cut down your water consumption considerably.

Oh, and if you like to drink cold water, fill a large jug and put it the fridge rather than waiting for the water to run cold every time you want a glass.

2. New tech

Gadgets like cistern displacement devices in your toilet and low-flow taps and shower heads, as well as modern white goods like dishwashers and washing machines, can seriously reduce water consumption. Waiting until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher will also save water and energy.

And while technology is all well and good, fixing a dripping tap and keeping an eye out for leaks will also help. Installing a water meter can also make you more aware of your water use.

save water, reduce water consumption, koru architects, eco architect, sustainable architect3. Collect your own

Installing a water butt to your drain pipe is a low cost and low effort way to make the most of the rain that we (usually) have in abundance in the UK. You can use this to water your plants and lawn and wash your car and windows. Your plants will prefer the rainwater anyway, and if you have a large garden it will dramatically cut the amount of treated water you use.

While we’re on the subject of plants, using a watering can rather than a hose can save water – according to Ofwat, hoses and sprinkler systems use 500 - 1000 litres of water an hour.

This collected rainwater will have traces of icky stuff like bird poop and bacteria, and algae may grow in it if the water is left stagnant for a while, so don't forget, no drinking!

 

4. Rainwater harvesting systems

While a water butt will do for outside use, the next stage in rainwater harvesting is installing a system which will filter the water adequately to use for any outside taps, to flush toilets and potentially for use in a washing machine.

Bonus: as rainwater hasn't been treated, it's softer, meaning less detergent required and more money saved for you!

Most rainwater harvesting systems will be fitted on your roof, with an underground tank to store the water. Because of this, these systems are best installed on a new build or when you’re undertaking a major renovation project. When choosing a rainwater harvesting system, you first need to consider local average rainfall, the size of your roof or catchment area, and how much water you will need. This will determine the best type of system for you.

There are a few different systems on the market, from simple sand filtration to high-tech UV treatment, so talk to a sustainable architect or do some research on the different companies to make sure you make the right choice for your project.

~

So there you have it, Koru's top tips on how to save water, from easy-peasy to a more considerable effort.


Do you have any top tips for saving water? Let us know! @KoruArchitects

16 July 2018

GrandDesignsMagazine.com, July 2018

Koru Architects' director Mark Pellant's house appeared in the online article '7 eco houses to inspire an energy efficient self build project'

Grand Designs magazine, Koru Architects, Eco Architect, Sustainable Building, Lloyd Close

Read the full article here and be inspired by the six other fantastic eco builds.


Follow Grand Designs magazine on Instagram at @GrandDesignsMag

10 July 2018

Commissioning an architect: how and why?

Commissioning an architect can be a daunting prospect if you’re not familiar with it. In this post we break down the process, referring to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) guidelines. 

commissioning an architect, koru architects, eco architects, brighton, hove, sustainable design

Do I need an architect?

By commissioning an architect you can add value to your project in many ways. Architects are professionally trained to develop creative solutions to challenges – they know what will work and what won’t.

Practically, if your project is large enough to need planning permission then you will need an architect, but smaller projects can also benefit from an architect’s expertise.

You can commission different services: from a one-off consultation, to drawing up a design, to seeing the whole process through to completion – including managing the planning and construction phases. Through their training and experience, an architect will know how to turn your aspirations into reality, while getting you the best value for money.

The initial payment for an architect's services will undoubtedly be paid back through the value they add to the project.

How do I know if someone is an architect?

The title ‘architect’ is protected by law (Architects Act 1997), so only those who have completed rigorous training and are fully qualified can use it. ‘Architectural designers’ – or similar – are not architects and do not have the requisite training. All architects must be registered with the Architects' Registration Board (ARB).

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the UK’s professional body of architects. RIBA Chartered Practices are the only architectural practices endorsed and promoted by RIBA. These practices have proven their commitment to quality assurance, business management and client service, as well as excellence in design and service delivery.

Only architectural practices that meet a strict eligibility criteria can register as a RIBA Chartered Practice.

RIBA accreditation: what it really means

When you're commissioning an architect, looking for RIBA-accreditation is a good way to ensure the practice is up to scratch. All RIBA accredited Chartered Practices:

  • employ a required number of individual RIBA Chartered Architects
  • have appropriate professional indemnity insurance
  • have an effective quality management system
  • have comprehensive health and safety and environmental policies in place
  • are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with a code of practice in a manner appropriate to their status
  • are committed to excellence in design and customer service

That’s why the RIBA only promotes accredited Chartered Practices to clients.

Commissioning an architect: what's the process?

Every project is unique but they all follow the basic process as outlined below, taken from RIBA’s Plan of Work 2013, the most recent update.

commissioning an architect, koru architects, eco architects, brighton, hove, sustainable design
Stage 0/1: Preparation and Brief

This is the most important stage as it determines the rest of the project. You will discuss your goals, ideas, aspirations and budget with us and we will help you assess your options and if necessary carry out a feasibility study. We will also identify which other professionals may need to be consulted, for example a structural engineer.

Stage 2: Concept Design

We will respond to your brief with our initial design ideas, displayed in a series of sketches called a ‘concept design’. Your feedback is crucial at this stage, so we know how to develop the ideas into a full design solution. Together we will agree on a project strategy and timeline, and then we will liaise with local planners on your behalf.

Stage 3: Developed Design

This is where we spend time developing the concept design into something that can actually be built. This more detailed digitalised version will go beyond the shape and style of the building to include all practical considerations and the work of any other consultants. At this stage you will start to get an idea of the cost of the project, and once the developed design is agreed then we will submit it for planning approval.

Stage 4: Technical Design

Although the fundamental design is agreed at Stage 3, a further level of technical detail is required to create precise floor plans and specifications that can be handed to a building contractor. Any conditions attached to planning permission will need to be resolved at this stage and we will also submit the plans for building control approval. Once this is done, we can start to approach builders, and if desired we can manage them on your behalf.

Stage 5: Construction

The building is now under construction! Throughout this stage, we can oversee and manage the project to make sure it’s built on budget and on time. Any minor deviation from the technical design will be documented.

Stage 6/7: Handover and Use

In this final stage the project is wrapped up and the building handed over to you. We will inspect the building, finalise the building contract and complete any necessary certifications, and you will be able to give feedback. We will both have a chance to evaluate the project and the building is now ready for use.

If you have any further questions about commissioning an architect, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!


About us

Koru Architects is an award-winning RIBA Chartered Practice with a design-led and client-centred approach. Our director, Mark Pellant, has more than 25 years of professional experience. We favour creative design solutions and lateral thinking, meaning with us you may have more options than you originally thought.

Mark and the rest of the team are passionate advocates of sustainable design, and our practice has a reputation for creative use of light and space and careful selection of natural materials. If you want to reduce your energy bills while easing your environmental impact, we will add extra value to your project with our sustainable design expertise.

Learn more about our design philosophy here and our certifications here.

 

10 July 2018

Brighton & Hove Independent, 6 July 2018

'Awards for Brighton zero carbon buildings construction company' 

Brighton and Hove's weekly newspaper, the Brighton & Hove Independent, featured Koru-project PassivPod's double award success at the Best New Business Awards 2018 on p.16 of the business section.

The paper quoted Koru director Mark Pellant, saying: "Having worked as an architect specialising in sustainable design for the past two decades, it's very encouraging to see the growing interest in sustainable construction and awareness of the problems associated with traditional construction practices."

Out now – pick up a copy before Friday.

01273 204065
info@koruarchitects.co.uk

Studio 221, 91 Western Road,
Brighton and Hove, BN1 2NW

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