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Sustainable Design: Extending Existing Buildings with Environmental Strategies

Sustainable strategies built into the Delderfields extension

Designing an extension for an existing building presents a unique opportunity to blend contemporary architectural elements with sustainable strategies. In this project, we used zinc as cladding and incorporated the following environmental strategies: water collection, ventilation, natural lighting and solar shading. By adopting these strategies, we created a sustainable and visually stunning extension which enhanced the environmental performance and functionality and of the building. 

Zinc was chosen as the main cladding material of the project due to its versatility, durability and sustainability. Additionally, over time, zinc adds character and visual appeal to the extension with its unique aesthetic qualities, ranging from vibrant shades to a subtle patina, making it the obvious choice for our project. Zinc is a naturally occurring material which is abundant and highly recyclable, making it an environmentally responsible choice. Its durability, low maintenance requirements, and resistance to corrosion ensure the longevity of the building envelope.

Delderfields zinc extension sustainable strategies rear view devon co create architects 01
Co Create Architects contemporary zinc extension in Exmouth, Devon.

Architects can incorporate large windows, skylights, and light wells strategically to maximize the penetration of natural light into the interior spaces. Careful consideration of the building’s orientation and the placement of windows has optimized daylighting, reducing the reliance on artificial lighting during the day and creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere for our clients.  

As seen in the image below, the use of strategically placed windows and shading in the extension, allows for a controlled level of lighting into the space. The solar shading prevents the kitchen-diner from overheating whilst allowing light into the space. Integrating natural lighting strategies in the extension design not only reduces energy consumption but also enhances the well-being of our clients. Furthermore, using effective solar shading strategies can help regulate interior temperatures, minimize glare, and reduce the need for excessive air conditioning. Techniques such as overhangs, louvers, and brise-soleil can be incorporated into the extension’s design to provide shade and control the amount of sunlight entering the building. By carefully analysing the sun’s path throughout the year, we ensure the extension remains comfortable while minimizing energy consumption. 

Delderfields zinc extension sustainable strategies above view devon co create architects 02
Co Create Architects contemporary zinc extension in Exmouth, Devon.

Another current and growing environmental concern is water scarcity, making water collection and conservation strategies essential in sustainable design. In this project we designed a system utilising hidden downpipes in the façade where the rain water is harvested and directed to a water reserve underneath the utility space. This water can be reused for domestic functions such as washing and flushing toilets. Designing rainwater collection systems that capture and store rainwater for various uses, such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling systems is becoming more common in our proposals. These systems are integrated into the building’s infrastructure, reducing the reliance on municipal water supply and promoting a more sustainable approach to water management.

Proper ventilation plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Architects can incorporate natural ventilation strategies into the extension’s design to promote fresh air circulation and reduce reliance on mechanical ventilation systems. We achieved this by utilizing high and low operable windows and openings. This will allow for a greater temperature regulation without the dependence on air conditioning, skylights, and atriums to facilitate cross-ventilation and promote airflow. Efficient ventilation systems reduce energy consumption associated with artificial cooling and ventilation as well as contribute to occupant well-being. 

Delderfields zinc extension sustainable strategies workshop view devon co create architects 03
Co Create Architects contemporary zinc extension in Exmouth, Devon.

Designing extensions on existing buildings with a focus on sustainable strategies and materials, such as zinc cladding, natural lighting, solar shading, water collection, and ventilation, allows us to create environmentally conscious and visually appealing structures. By embracing these strategies, we can enhance the functionality, comfort, and energy efficiency of the building while minimizing its environmental impact. Sustainable design not only benefits the occupants and the planet but also sets an example for future architectural endeavours, encouraging a holistic approach to construction and responsible resource utilization. 

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Co Create Architects | RIBA Chartered Architects Devon