KPMG headquarters, 15 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, LondonKPMG's Docklands hq has been lauded for its green credentials. Keith Mason, technical director, of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects explains how it was achieved, and what the outcomes have been to date.
Report from – Keith Mason
15 Canada Square, the new Canary Wharf ‘hub' for KPMG has been described by Estates Gazette as "one of the most ambitiously ecological office developments in the country". It replaces a dispersed estate with a state of the art new building that emphasises the sustainable credentials of the company. It also provides a much enhanced staff and visitor environment.
KPMG set a suite of sustainability targets for a wide range of issues, including carbon generation, waste and recycling, that make this a flagship example of a twenty-first century ‘green' office.
KPMG wanted to showcase its commitment to collaborative working, demonstrating to staff and clients the company ethos and brand, which is evident from the entrance, and all the way through the building.
It is located on one of the last vacant sites at Canary Wharf, and provides 15 storeys above ground, with three basement levels, linking directly into the Wharf's underground circulation routes and transport links. It has a net internal area of about 400,000sq ft (37,000sq m) and is designed for flexible working, with extensive touchdown and meeting spaces. The brief also calls for a wide range of amenity functions including a staff restaurant and coffee shop.
An atrium sweeps up through 14 floors, with staircases linking each group of three floors to informal breakout areas, to encourage collaborative working. Swanke Hayden Connell Architects (SHCA) developed a more open office space strategy with the building users that replaced a highly cellular environment in their previous accommodation. Better control makes for a more comfortable workspace, with active chilled beams throughout the workspace areas.
Two of the original three car parking floors in the speculative scheme were replaced with 200 cycle spaces and showering facilities; and with ancillary accommodation including a serviced archival filing system. As KPMG staff are well accustomed to using public transport, there is also a well developed green travel policy.
KPMG's brief was to reduce their carbon emissions by 50 per cent and to beat the current Part L requirement by 20 per cent. They invested in a gas-powered 1000 kVA combined heat and power (CHP) engine linked to an absorption chiller providing cooling. Sophisticated controls and monitoring further reduce the energy demand.
Other measures contributing to the high sustainability score include:
- metering, daylight and passive infra red (PIR) linking, and local system controls reduce energy load and increase user comfort and well being
- grey water harvesting and automatic shut off of taps reducing potable water demand by 30-40 per cent
- sedum roof moderates water runoff and improves ecology
- interiors product selection largely from Group A/A+ from the BRE Green Guide to Specification. All timber including furniture is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sourced
- leather uses a vegetable tanning process, avoiding the release of chemicals.
Outcomes to date
- The building was awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating when completed.
- Carbon emissions have been reduced to less than 50 per cent of the buildings it replaced, with an achieved emission rate of less than 40 kgCO2/sqm/year (less than a fifth of existing UK prestige A/C office buildings according to Carbon Trust research). This is almost 350 tonnes per year less CO2 than Part L requirements, and around 800 tonnes less than the previous estate. The Energy Performance Asset Rating is B.
- Contractors Canary Wharf and ISG developed sophisticated waste management plans. Less than 10 per cent of the base build waste and only 5 per cent of the fit out waste went to landfill, the rest being re-used or recycled.
- 24 per cent of materials used included recycled content, including structural concrete.
- Canary Wharf Contractors won a Green Apple Award for innovation in construction.
- A third of the fit-out materials - some 1300 tonnes - was recycled content. For example, workstation screens are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic containers, and worktops are 100 per cent recycled material.
- The collaborative, open, flexible ethos of the design works very well in practice and the building now comfortably accommodates several hundred more staff than was envisaged - yet this approach is more efficient in space take terms.
- Informal break out spaces, study carrels and meeting spaces are popular and heavily used, and KPMG's clients have enjoyed the new experience.
- Client commitment is crucial to success. The client made sustainability a major driver of the project, and this allowed the design team to focus on this area throughout the design process: but all initiatives had to be costed and have a viable ‘business case'. KPMG was prepared to invest in real sustainable features with a definite payback: for example, the inclusion of CHP.
- To set sensible green targets, KPMG consulted with the Carbon Trust, WRAP, BRE and Sustrans.
- Close liaison and collaboration between the base build and fit out teams is essential. SHCA as fit-out architects worked closely with the client, the developer, base build architects and engineering disciplines to develop a sustainable design.
- Successful sustainability initiatives need to be fully integrated into the design at an early stage. Add-on sustainable features are not necessarily of great benefit. A number of technologies were considered and found unsuitable. For example, the contribution of a photovoltaic panel system on the roof would have been small, and there was no demonstrable payback. Similarly, wind generators were rejected early.
- The design team has produced a building that offers a tangible example of KPMG's approach, and acts as a blueprint for the firm's other offices.
Sources and links
Fit out architects, interior designer, design team leader: Swanke Hayden Connell Architects
Project manager: Turner and Townsend
Cost consultant: EC Harris
Fit out building services engineering: Faber Maunsell/AECOM
Fire engineering: SAFE
Acoustic consultant: Hann Tucker
Catering consultant: Tricon
Fit out main contractor: ISG
Approved inspector: Shore Engineering
Specialist lighting: Light Bureau
Base build services engineering: Norman Disney Young
Base build contractor: Canary Wharf Contractors
Tri-generation system: Caterpillar
Chilled beams: Trox
Lighting controls: Simmtronic
Building management system: BAS/Trend
Cycle storage units (as shown in photo): Cyclepods