Welcome to our blog, written by members of the QED team.

This is an outlet for news, observations on renewable energy, sustainable development, urban regeneration and movable buildings and even the occasional rant! (Please note these do not necessarily represent the opinions of QED as a corporate entity).

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Creating carbon negative buildings - Internal boarding

We are delighted to be bringing forward our next batch of projects into the delivery stage – one of which we have been working on for over four years. As we begin the detailed design, one of our ambitions is to see if we can create carbon negative buildings – buildings that store more carbon than it takes to construct the buildings, produce the materials, and ultimately dismantle them.

There is a short fall in real data around this subject, so this will be the first of many blogs as we document our progress.

Here is what was found while considering using OSB as the default internal boarding material. This paper titled Carbon storage in wood products is a helpful starting point as it sets out the amount of emissions stored in a wood product versus the emissions associated with its production.

Carbon stored per cubic meter product

Carbon produced in the production process (varies depending on the type of renewable energy sources used for electricity and heat)

Particle board 720 kgCO2

Particle board 542-698 kgCO2

OSB board 720 kgCO2

OSB Board 639-710 kgCO2

MDF Board 820 kgCO2

MDF 485-763 kgCO2

Production of all three materials uses a lot of heat, MDF more so than Particle board or OSB. The paper does state that producing MDF using fossil fuels all but wipes out the stored carbon - 749 kgCO2 in production versus 820 kgCO2 in the material.

So, if internal boarding is going to help our carbon accounting - particularly with transport emissions of bringing the material to site not yet included - then we need a UK OSB board manufacturer who uses renewables, as close to Sussex as possible, at a competitive price.

While we don’t yet have prices or supply chain it appears there is a potential solution based in Dartford, Medite SmartPly.  The product datasheet states that the material is carbon positive with further data available on request – we’ve been in contact and so far they have been really helpful.

It will be interesting to understand once transport emissions are taken into account if this remains carbon negative. This info sheet on calculating embodied carbon emissions has some really helpful transport emissions factors for moving forward with.

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Sea Lanes; A strategic approach to meanwhile use

Sea Lanes; A strategic approach to meanwhile use

A recent weekend saw a hub of activity down on Madeira Drive with Sea Lanes playing a key part; Extinction Rebellion were holding workshops, yogis enjoyed early morning yoga, sea swimmers made the most of the warmer water and some enjoyed a dip in between saunas. The summer pop up was a hive of activity with the backdrop of the London to Brighton bike ride finish line and teeming with triathletes have just finished down the road at Hove Lawns. People of all shapes and sizes clustered together on this beautiful part of Brighton’s seafront, steeped in heritage and reactivated through Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) strategy of events and meanwhile use.

It has been a few years since Sea Lanes won BHCC’s competition to build an open air swimming pool on Brighton beach. Delivering it would be easy if it wasn’t so hard! (don’t worry this isn’t another blog about the planning system – quite the opposite in fact).

Regeneration is complex and deals with a number of intertwined systems that must all function and align to ensure delivery. Sea Lanes is quickly becoming a best practice example of a strategic approach to redevelopment through meanwhile use, with valuable lessons learnt along the way.

The summer pop up has allowed fledgling business such as the Beach Box Sauna to ripen from humble beginnings at the Brighton Festival to a thriving seafront attraction. Local collaboration with Save Madeira Terraces has added support to the campaign and brought the issues to the attention of new audiences. Jobs have been created and the space has allowed pop up food vendors to experiment with their latest creations. Sea Lanes swim coaching and Swim Gym are cultivating a health and wellbeing culture and community onsite.

The pop up experiment, while there remains a long way to go to deliver the 50m pool, has proven that reactivation can be done simply, quickly and effectively and support the creation of more interesting, cohesive and ultimately authentic urban environments. Validating the strategic approach to regeneration outlined in the Madeira Drive Regeneration framework with a less prescriptive more flexible approach to development paying dividends.

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Ecotherapy: the natural selection for teambuilding days

Ecotherapy: the natural selection for teambuilding days

Most of us spend our work life at a desk in a strip-lit office, and the closest we'll get to a plant is the obligatory Yucca in reception. That's why we, the team at QED, welcomed the ethos of the Brighton-based Centre for Ecotherapy with open arms recently.

A not-for-profit social enterprise, the Centre for Ecotherapy provides support for vulnerable people in the local Brighton and Hove community through the use of nature-based and horticultural therapies, mindfulness and practical activities.

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London’s Housing Crisis: A guide on how to eat an elephant (part 4)

London’s Housing Crisis: A guide on how to eat an elephant (part 4)

In our last blog in this series, we take a look at the final piece of the puzzle of London’s housing crisis – the perception of land value vs. building value, and the importance of detaching the two.

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London’s Housing Crisis: A guide on how to eat an elephant (part three)

London’s Housing Crisis: A guide on how to eat an elephant (part three)

January 2018

A new year encourages us all to reflect, assess and, where necessary, improve. This is true in both our personal and professional lives. It is also applicable to industry, and none more so than the UK housebuilding industry.

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