Architects analyse the correct application of sustainability

A holistic approach to the issue of sustainability within building design is necessary in order to provide a greener future according to P& T – the 14th largest architecture company in the world.

Director Stephan Frantzen and sustainability expert Ahmed Mosa outlined how P&T – which has its main offices in Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai, headquartered in Hong Kong – is tackling this increasingly important subject.

“We are quite simply living beyond the regenerative capacity of our planet,” said Frantzen. “And buildings are a major contributor to carbon emissions: 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, along with 12% of potable water and 30% of the total energy.”

Mosa said the emphasis on environmentally friendly building in the Dubai’s Expo bid and the adoption of a Green Building Code were steps in the right direction.

But he added that subjects such as transport and infrastructure must also be taken into account as well.
“There is no use having a sustainable building if people have to drive many kilometres to reach it,” he said.

Frantzen said that geographical and climatic conditions need to be taken into consideration during the building design and construction.

“It’s very important to understand the difference between having a certified building and a sustainable building. Rating systems are only tools which will not necessarily lead to a genuine sustainable building, especially with lower certification levels.

“Most rating systems are based on or inspired by American and British standards. As a consequence, these systems fail to recognise local traditional buildings because the rating systems emerged in industrialised countries that depend heavily on mechanical systems.

“Therefore they do not consider the local historic, climatic, economic, technological and social context.”
Mosa said the client needs to be involved from the beginning in the considerations about sustainability.

“There has to be something in it for the client when sustainable factors are incorporated into a design,” he said.

“This is of course crucial for life on the planet. But we need to offer something concrete that developers can see is beneficial to them economically and as a way to profile their company as a serious developer.”

The company’s latest projects include new headquarters for the Liu Chong Hing Bank along Des Voeux Road in Hong Kong and a design institute in the city which uses solar energy for power and recycled material for flooringwhich also acts as insulation.

Water conservation is also an important part of that development ,its lightweight structure minimises the use of materials and open corridors lessen demand for air conditioning.

Frantzen said an “integrated approach” is the way forward for sustainable design.

“Our process is to facilitate the co-ordination between the design teams, the architects and the engineers from the early stages of a project,” he said.

“We have an advantage being a multi-discipline firm which includes architects, structural engineers and MEP engineers where we share knowledge between our many offices.”