Sustainability is of paramount importance to us all, as businesses and as individuals. That is why at Davies Maguire we involve our entire staff in improving our environmental performance
Our Approach to Sustainability
Sustainability is of paramount importance to us all, as businesses and as individuals. That is why at Davies Maguire we involve our entire staff in improving our environmental performance, in the shape of regular company-wide brainstorming and knowledge sharing events. We often find that knowledge of the most recent developments and exciting innovations comes from our most junior staff. As signatories to Structural Engineers Declare, we are bound to put sustainable development at the forefront of all that we do, particularly in relation to our projects. Our culture is to look for opportunities to improve what we do in all facets of our business.
As engineers we have a unique ability to quantify the world around us. This is critical to providing the understanding that is needed to reduce the carbon footprint of our industry. With our in-house calculator, we can efficiently analyse the embodied carbon of our schemes and options; enabling us to make sustainable choices and refine our designs whilst offering important benchmarking data to the wider industry. Communication within sustainability is key, which is why our calculator focuses on providing clarity to our clients. This gives us the confidence to promote and lead positive discussions surrounding embodied carbon within the design team on all of our projects.
All material use has an associated carbon footprint, so often the most effective way to minimise this impact is simply to minimise the volume of materials used. By extension of this philosophy it is preferable to refurbish frames where possible, utilising the material already in place rather than demolishing and rebuilding, so this is always the first option we consider. At Davies Maguire our philosophy is to work materials to their maximum capacity to optimise efficiency in their use. We work closely with clients to avoid over-specifying buildings, particularly with regard to load allowances for floor slabs. We collaborate with wind tunnel and CFD experts to model wind loads with greater precision and less conservatism, and we give early stage advice on the most structurally efficient layouts and options. This approach has the added benefit of being highly cost effective for clients.
Building Better – Refurbishment
Our approach to working with existing structures has been developed over many years of working in and around existing and historic buildings, we have built a deep understanding of how sensitively restoring, extending and adapting existing structures can be the best way of breathing life back into the fabric by ensuring that they are fit for future purpose to modern occupation requirements
With a starting point of creating an in depth understanding of the existing structure through desk study research and a series of targeted local investigations, we then look at how best to adapt and extend the existing structure along with developing appropriate construction techniques and looking in detail at construction sequences at an early stage to help inform the final design.
Building Smarter – New Build
An example which demonstrates our approach to new build with sustainability in mind is 103 Colmore Row in Birmingham, a 26 storey office tower sitting above a 4 storey basement. Despite the project being new-build, Davies Maguire proposed the retention and reuse of the existing basement and raft foundation. Although there had previously been a tower on the site, it was significantly smaller than the replacement, both in terms of height and footprint. This made the reuse of the raft foundation, originally designed for a smaller building with a different column grid, a huge technical challenge.
This approach resulted in a estimated reduction in concrete volume of 1500m³, or 700t CO2e. In other areas of the project we specified high levels of cement replacement, minimising the use of Portland Cement. We also specified an usually high grade of steel (S460 HISTAR), produced via the lower embodied carbon Electric Arc Furnace method, reducing both the overall volume and CO2e/t of the steel frame.
Dating back to the founding of the company, we have always worked closely with contractors to ensure that our designs and specifications are at the forefront of technology, and are achievable. This includes Practice to Practice knowledge sharing events, as well as collaborations on projects. Through these connections we were involved in the review of PAS 8820 (Alkali-activated cementitious material and concrete – Specification) prior to its release and were one of the first companies in the UK to specify the use of Earth Friendly Concrete in permanent works.
At Davies Maguire we are continually striving to minimise the environmental impact of the material that we specify. Concrete and steel in particular have high embodied carbon so when we are working with these materials, we tailor our specifications to reduce this as far as possible. For many years we have specified high levels of cement replacement within our concrete mix designs. This drive to minimise the use of Portland Cement has led to early involvement in the roll out of CemFree concrete, and early specification of Earth Friendly Concrete in a permanent works scenario.
On our project at 70 Mark Lane, we specified concrete mixes with high levels of replacement of both Portland Cement and primary aggregate. This, along with other measures taken on the project, resulted in a BREEAM innovation credit for project, and the following awards for the company and the project engineer:
NCE Awards Low Carbon Leader: Finalist
ACE/NCE Awards Sustainable Champion: Finalist
Building Magazine Rising Stars of Sustainability