Neil Dickson, Senior Building Surveyor took over week 3 of our Instagram Takeover. As Neil took the reigns on the takeover over he took us all on a whistle-stop tour of his journey with sustainability from where his interest began to its application on his current projects. While many talk about Sustainability as a theoretical part of a project Neil brought it to life and how every project is at least one of the three – economically sustainable, enviromentally sustainable or socially sustainable. Over to Neil.
- My interest in sustainability and conservation first began at Northumbria University where I studied between 2009-2013. Sustainability seemed to be a buzzword then and despite predominantly focusing on the environmental side rather than social and economic, it featured quite heavily throughout my course to the point where I wrote my dissertation on an important part of it. My research highlighted that most wanted to appear to be ‘green’ rather than actually being ‘green’. We have come a long way in a relatively short space of time and in recent years this attitude seems to be changing, but clearly more needs to be done with the built environment playing a major role in cutting carbon emissions.
- Some of you will already know that after finishing my university studies I moved to New Zealand where I worked as a building surveyor for nearly 3 years. Admittedly I knew little about NZ before moving there but my initial impressions were lots of sheep and a green healthy place to live. NZ is a truly beautiful place to live but the ‘green’ impression is far from accurate. Statistics show that each Kiwi is responsible for 18 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year compared to 8.4 tonnes per person in the UK. Sustainability is the only way forward, but seeing statistics like this can make you think – why bother when others are causing so much damage?
- GLM have a reputation for the adaptation and reuse of the existing building stock. With this little bothy there was no adaptation, just like-for-like repairs. Many would have thought this was beyond saving, but with the right client and contractor it was brought back into use for many many years to come. There is no doubt that this building will last longer than any of its potential replacements ever could have, with minimal environment impact and in my opinion it looks better too.
- Most projects are not truly sustainable, but every project will be a success in at least one of the three pillars of sustainability, Environmental, Economical and Social. The refurbishment works to our neighbours, The Samaritans, on Torphichen Street was a great example of a social benefit for a great charity. We updated and refreshed the space to make a comfortable space for the Samaritans to undertake their important work and relax between calls. A real feed good project to be involved with.
- Sometimes the perfect project comes along as it did with this project for William Purves Funeral Directors in Elgin. With the help of Simpson Builders, we took an existing garage and converted this to a modern mortuary and embalming suite and provided a new garage space adjacent to the existing building. We minimized the environmental impact by reusing an existing building, maximized commerciality to make the project economically sensible for our client and improved the social aspect for those who work there.
- As building surveyors we don’t always get involved in full building refurbishments. Sometimes only a portion of the building requires our attention. The reinforced concrete lintels above the windows to this popular church hall in East Lothian had suffered from the salty sea air and were causing the windows below to buckle under the weight. GLM applied for and obtained grant funding to help the owners pay for the repairs and then designed what was needed to replace the lintels and refurbish the windows. Unfortunately the decoration has been put on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, but the transformation is already stunning.
- Sustainable Development within the Brundtland Report is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. On a recent trip to Cornwall I visited Tintagel Castle which had welcomed the opening of the new bridge linking the castle to the mainland. The ancient landbridge fell away in this location a few hundred years ago so this bridge makes the attractions more accessible than it has been in a longtime, meeting the needs of present and future.