Workspace achieved our first ever Silver SKA rating at Gray’s Inn Road. The refurbishment project saw 100% of the stripped-out materials recycled, all materials diverted from landfill, any new products sustainably sourced and energy efficient air conditioning and lighting installed.

What is SKA?

SKA rating is an environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit-outs, led and owned by RICS.

SKA comprises more than a hundred 'good practice' measures covering energy and CO2 emissions, waste, water, materials, pollution, wellbeing and transport. An example of a good practice measure is that when wooden flooring is stripped out, it should be sent for re-use to a salvage yard instead of to landfill.

There are three levels of accreditation dependent on performance; Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Read more about Ska here.

The Project

The project was a £2.7 million fit-out of the lower ground, ground, 4th – 6th floors at 60 Grays Inn Road with a 20-week programme.

Workspace employed AA Projects (AAP) who were the SKA assessor and consultants for this project with a target of Silver. The initial scoping exercise was undertaken with the design team to establish which Good Practice Measures (GPMs) were applicable to the scheme.  The second part of this initial exercise was to talk through the GPMs with the team as the experience with SKA was relatively limited. A target of Silver was developed with built in contingency so should any credits be lost the level would still be achievable.

AAP reviewed the initial design and project specifications in RIBA Stage 2, confirming compliance or areas where specified products were non-compliant.  This early involvement in the scheme meant that changes could be made to the design to maximise achievement; for example, the timber flooring had to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved.

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The Key Challenges

The key challenges that this project faced regarding SKA included:

  • Appointing the SKA assessor at the end of RIBA Stage 2 caused some delays in the design process.
  • Required a lot of co-ordination between the design team and SKA assessor to ensure Silver was achieved
  • To motivate and encourage the design team to embrace SKA and to see it as a positive impact on the project and not as ‘extra work’.
  • To hold SKA workshops and review the Stage 3 & 4 designs against the SKA criteria to ensure that we were on target for a Silver.
  • SKA has a major focus on materials and waste which meant that many of the GPMs linked into the main contractor’s procurement chain, delivery notes and waste records.  The level of detail required to sign off each individual element was above and beyond what the main contractor would ordinarily provide.  Therefore, standalone workshops were undertaken to ensure the correct measures and reporting procedures were in place to ensure certification was achieved.
  • There were some additional costs involved with the SKA rating including SKA Assessor fees, additional workshops, paying for additional materials to meet the high criteria set by SKA such as low flow sanitary fittings which we wouldn’t normally specify. However, in the grand scheme of the project this was minimal.
  • To achieve a Gold certification, further investment would have been required and some criteria was not physically possible. For example, there was not enough space in the car park to install the specified number of bike racks.

Key features

  • 100% of the stripped-out materials was diverted from landfill and recycled
  • All new products were sustainably sourced, for example the timber floor was FSC
  • The air conditioning had to reach a particular energy efficiency rating including a heat recovery VRV system
  • All lights were LED and had PIR controls
  • Paints were certified with an EU Ecolabel and recycled with 90% recycled content or supplied with IS014025 standards
  • Wall tiles had at least 70% recycled content with an EU Ecolabel or ISO 14025 standard.
  • Kingspan Raised Floor – manufacture red with 100% recycled and recyclable content or supplied with IS014025 standard
  • The procurement chain ensured that materials with only the highest level of environmental certification were used on the scheme
  • Low flow sanitary fittings were used throughout to conserve water

 

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Main findings

The main achievement of the project was that the design and construction teams, who had limited SKA experience, gained a silver rating, which is the first Ska rating for a Workspace refurbishment. The team really embraced the project and everyone including the main contractor worked collaboratively during workshops and on-site meetings to ensure the criteria was achieved.

Another key finding was that most of the materials that the design team were specifying already complied with the SKA criteria. This showed that the design team were already being environmental conscious when specifying materials. This made achieving the Silver rating that bit more attainable as we did not have to overhaul the whole specification.

Following the success of the SKA project at Gray’s Inn Road, Workspace are keen to implement another Silver and potentially a Gold SKA refurbishment project.

Upon reflection Sam Palmes, our Project Manager, found that SKA “focuses the design team and ensures that they are thinking about the environment and the ‘green credentials’ of products and materials when they are specifying.” He also felt that ‘it did not concede on the design in anyway. We achieved the project brief and aesthetics that we wanted so overall this project was a success.”

 

To find out more about 60 Grays Inn Road, please visit our property page, or you can find further case studies here