Review of Green Sky Thinking Week 2013

The programme of 2013 covered themes and issues that were considered the most critical in greening London's built environment. The review of the programme has been considered by type of property and their specific sustainability issues.

Office and Public Buildings

  • The challenges presented by sustainability standardsand EPC's were a common topic. Max Fordham, Penoyre & Prasad, Henderson Global contributed to the discussion of how best to achieve BREEAM in schools and office spaces.
  • Post-occupancy evaluation and soft landings were other popular themes. The Green Sky Thinking launch set the direction by highlighting the lack of data transparency on building performance. The AJ, WSCP, Max Fordham made significant contributions to the topic.
  • The building's occupant was considered in more depth this year. The occupant, the personal user, took centre stage when considering productivity, well-being, staff retention, and optimising the occupant's use of their space. Nicholas Hare Architects, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Interface, FFE Consulting, British Land and Aegis Media, Henderson Global explained how productivity is related to sustainably designed buildings and interiors.
  • The trade-offs between function and sustainability were discussed at the Waterman and Gardiner&Theobald events. Each building is unique and is used for a particular function,as a result the sustainability standards can often hinder or contradict the holistic sustainability of the building. Max Fordham presented some unique solutions to the need for reducing spending in public sector buildings, while keeping them green such as an energy risk register and special after-hours use areas.

Private and Council Housing

  • The debate of what is more viable – decent home retrofits or passivhaus retrofits – took centre stage in the discussion of sustainable housing. Paul Davis+Partners and Eight Associates, The Passivhaus Trust and bere:architects presented data to illustrate how passivhaus is the more energy-saving solution in the long term, while halfway solutions might endanger air quality and the condition of the building fabric.
  • Refurbishment of heritage buildings or non-heritage buildings in heritage environments was another popular topic. Paul Davis+Parnters and Eight Associates, Hilson Moran and E2 Architecture+Interiors, LB Islington, Sturgis Carbon Profiling explained how with careful planning and execution heritage areas can be both refurbished and preserved.
  • Squire and Partners, Carl Tuner Architects , Hilson Moran and partners E2, BACA Architects offered an inside look into the latest technologies that make private houses sustainable.
  • Rockwool hosted a pertinent discussion on the future of high rises, while Paul Davis and Patners and Eight Associates showed how council housing can be made to fulfill onerous planning conditions and achieve a high sustainability standard at the same time.
  • LB Islington made a contribution to the post occupancy evaluation debate for council and private housing by presenting on their unique voluntary scheme of involving occupants and designers in a building monitoring programme.
  • Another important contribution to the programme was the debate about custom build led by Ash Sakula and Igloo regeneration and Carl Turner Architects. Making custom build more popular is also a great way to introduce sustainability in new homes, because people care about the health and environmental aspects of their future home.


  • The Green Sky Thinking launch featured presentations by Crossrail and Hermes, who are co-developing the King’s Cross site. Bennetts Associates Architects and partner Argent contributed to the discussion on King’s Cross by explaining Argent’s strategy. Both discussions included environmental and social sustainability aspects: BREEAM standards at Crossrail stations and engagement of local artists and local building apprentices in the design and construction process.
  • Contributions by Biotecture, Better Bankside and Bankside Urban Forest, Team London Bridge and MDR Associates presented visions for greening London’s streetscape. Such solutions do not only make for a more friendly living environment, but also increase biodiversity and help control ambient temperature and polluted water waste.
  • Decentralized energy solutions were an important part of the programme. LB Islington showcased a recently finished energy network with the Bunhill Center at its core. Bennetts Associates hosted a theoretical discussion on the possibilities for energy supply in dense city areas, while Carl Turner Architects presented their vision for a sustainable neighborhood made of energy-efficient Slip Houses that will rely on solar hubs and CHP plants to become entirely self-sufficient.
  • Beyond Green and Ash Sakula Architects hosted further theoretical discussions on transport and resources in big cities like London. Comparisons with other big cities now and across history can help inform better policy.
  • How communities can help design their built environment and benefit from it was the topic of the events hosted by the Glass-House Community Led Design and David Morley Architects and the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers.

The programme was launched to 120 BE professionals by Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property, GLA with debate panelists from Crossrail, Skanska, Hermes Real Estate and Future for London at our breakfast event hosted by Gardiner & Theobald.

'Leading a Greener City' - Greater London Authority

Radical Sustainability: A New Paradigm - Interface
Why Choose Passivhaus? - Passivhaus Trust

Building Mission: Optimising Outcomes for Occupants - Gardiner & Theobald, PwC and the BCO
High Rise: Is their Hope? - Rockwool
Making Buildings Work - Arup
Bunhill Heat and Power - LB Islington
Are you Sitting Comfortably? - Nicholas Hare
Green Sky Thinking Pub Quiz - PTEarchitects
The Ecology of Regeneration - Better Bankside and Bankside Urban Forest
Sustainable Fit Outs: A Best Practice Example - British Land and Aegis Media
Living Walls: Transforming Urban Landscapes - Biotecture and Land Securities

Inherently Green: Sustainability Measures in the Development of 5 Hanover Square - Squire & Partners, MACE, Stanhope, AECOM
Thinking Custom Build - Ash Sakula Architects
From Financial Crisis to Green Metropolis - Beyond Green
London’s Future Streetscape - Team London Bridge and MDR Associates
Retrofit: Do It Yourself? - Cullinan Studio
People, Place and Value: Visioning Sustainable Places - The Glass-House Community Led Design

Think Green, Act Local! - Conisbee
Luxury with an Eco-Conscience - BACA Architcets and Mott MacDonald
Crouch Hill Park: Designing for Zero Carbon - Penoyre & Prasad
Thinking Forward: Which Issues will be Important for Achieving Sustainable Buildings and Cities? - Bennetts Associates
How to Give Your Project a Soft Landing - Max Fordham
Sustainable Transport - Beyond Green
MIND THE GAP – How to Crack Building Performance - The Architects' Journal and FCB Studios

Better the Devil you Know - Waterman Group
Occupying a BREEAM Excellent Building: Ensuring Reality Lives Up to Design - Henderson Global Investors, British Land and Verco
London's Food Legacy - Ash Sakula Architects
Passivhaus Retrofit POE and Code 4 Case Study - Paul Davis + Partners and Eight Associates
Slip House Six Months On - Carl Turner Architects
Retrofitting Soho - Sturgis Carbon Profiling

Who was involved in 2013?

Aegis Media
Anna Whitehead Design Consultancy
Ash Sakula Architects
Baca Architects
Bennetts Associates
Better Bankside
Beyond Green
British Council for Offices 
British Land
Buro Happold
Butler & Young
Capita Symonds
Carl Turner Architects
City Office Real Estate
Cullinan Studios
David Morley Architects
Director of KLH Sustainability
E2 Architecture + Interiors
East Anglia University
Ecosystem Services
Eight Associates
Energy Rating Services
FFE Consulting
Flether Priest Architects
Forum for the Future
Gardiner & Theobald
Greater London Authority
Green Allience
Green Roof Consultancy
Grigoriou Interiors
Henderson Global Investors
Hermes Real Estate
Hilson Moran
Hopkins Architects
HTA Architects
Hub King's Cross
Igloo Regeneration
Islington Climate Change Partnership
LB Islington
Lend Lease
Low Carbon Workplace
Max Fordham
Mott Macdonald
Nicholas Hare
Passivhaus Trust
Paul Davis + Partners Architects
Pollard Thomas Edwards architects
Sheffield University School of Architecture
Sir Robert McAlpine
Southwark Council
Sturgis Carbon Profiling
Team London Bridge
The Architects’ Journal
The Glass-House Community Led Design
Ventive Ltd
Waterman Group