On Thursday 12th September, the industry comes together to celebrate biodiversity and environmental innovation at the annual BIG Biodiversity Challenge awards. Our work has been recognised in a number of categories, including a shortlisting for Morley House in the ‘Construction Phase’ sector. Here Jenna Bates, Environmental Adviser for Kier Regional Building reveals more about the programme’s range of environmental initiatives and how we are working to reduce carbon and increase biodiversity.

Situated on Regent Street at the heart of Central London is our Morley House project. Due for completion in Spring 2020, the grade II listed building will house 44 apartments over 7 levels above retail units on the ground floor and basement. Our programme of works has included demolition, façade retention and the construction of the dwellings. Given the city centre location, coupled with the low to negligible biodiversity conditions prior to starting on site, we saw an opportunity to increase ecological value whilst taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint whilst building.

The noticeable and striking feature we have implemented is the green wall. At c.100m2, this was the largest temporary green structure in the country when first erected. Sitting above Regent Street, the green wall is fitted with an automatic irrigation system, including water recirculation. We have seeded the wall with species-rich wildflower meadows, attracting bees, other insects and birds, creating a new temporary habitat within a highly urban environment.

Further environmental initiatives include the use of breathe panels to monitor pollution levels. We have also created a stringent data recording process for monitoring delivery vehicle movements and their emissions, allowing us to develop and deliver a carbon offsetting strategy. To date we have offset over 25 tonnes of CO2 through tree planting. These measures go above and beyond our planning requirements as we look to set the bar for other London projects.

Since installing the green wall, along with our further environmental initiatives, we have seen a significant increase in the number of insects in the area, in addition to a recorded air quality improvement. These initiatives have supported our registration of the site as a Considerate Constructors Scheme Ultra Site and have attracted significant interest from members of the public when passing by.

With the green wall and breathe panels being suitable for any scaffolding, we hope to see these initiatives being replicated in other locations, particularly in urban areas where the opportunities for biodiversity are more limited.

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