Low Carbon Build, Aberdeenshire

Creating a low carbon office for Forestry and Land Scotland's Durris Depot near Banchory.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is the Scottish Government agency responsible for managing our national forests and land. With around 1,000 employees, they operate numerous offices, hubs, depots, visitor centres and a fleet of vehicles for travel and forestry use. Taking action on everyday working practices is vital for FLS to become a greener organisation and to help reach Net Zero, they are looking closely at their infrastructure to ensure everything they do makes them more sustainable.

Bell Ingram Design was engaged to design a low carbon office for FLS’s Durris Depot near Banchory. Along with the construction of the new building, the brief also included extensive upgrades to the external yard areas to provide additional parking and improvements to the day-to-day operation of the depot.

The goal was to create a sustainable and inclusive workplace which embedded our client’s green objectives in its design, construction and running.

The project was led by senior architect Murray Fleming, supported by senior architectural technologist Scott Ramsay and architectural technologist Lauren Livingston.

A flexible fit-out created a building which meets the needs of both staff members and site visitors. There are no allocated desks, instead the office allows for quick laptop connection at any workstation by any user. Collaboration spaces and an external terrace further extend the flexibility of the working environment.

Building materials reflect the build’s low carbon credentials with castor-oil-based open cell spray insulation providing exceptional air tightness and sustainably sourced larch cladding used for the timber exterior.

Elsewhere, aluminium clad timber windows and doors combine the low embodied energy of timber with the long-term performance of aluminium (and its ability to recycle at end of building life). Aluminium profile sheeting is used on the roof as well, again for its longevity and recycling credentials.

To minimise energy consumption, the orientation and glazing maximise passive solar energy gains, with external louvres providing protection from summer overheating. Summer cooling is enhanced by sliding doors to the staff room and main office. All lighting is LED although the high levels of daylighting reduces the need for artificial lighting.

Heating, which provides all hot water, is from an air source heat pump serving water-based underfloor heating. With 100% renewable electricity available this approach allows the building to operate with a fully renewable energy source.

Embracing the Civil Service’s ‘smarter working’ principles of using technology, property and leadership to give workers more flexibility over how, when and where they work has enabled Bell Ingram Design to create an optimised, low carbon workplace for our client which demonstrates FLS’s commitment to sustainability as they strive to become a greener organisation and ultimately reach their Net Zero goal.

The project demonstrated Bell Ingram Design’s full range of expertise which encompassed taking the project from inception to completion. This included: design, building warrant approval, tender package and contract administration during construction.

In many ways Durris offers a glimpse into the future of workplace construction. Although builds like this are still the exception, we hope to encourage others in the sector to consider the benefits of using sustainable materials, making renewable energy choices and incorporating smarter working principles.

Murray Fleming

Tel: 01463 717 799

Lauren Livingston

Architectural Technologist
Tel: 01307 462 516

Scott Ramsay

Senior Architectural Technician
Tel: 01307 462 516

Article posted on 29/03/2022

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