Blogs & Thoughts

Refurbishing for Retro First: Creating sustainable workplaces for the future

It was all about sustainability at last week's Build It - Aberdeen Construction & Property Conference with four days of insightful discussion about how the global pandemic, recent political events, and the targeted goal of net zero by 2035 has impacted the construction industry.

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  • Author Vicki Walker
  • Date 26 January 2022
  • Read Time 2 minutes
Architectural Services Edinburgh

It was great to be welcomed back to the conference, with our very own David Crowe, Head of Architecture and Major Projects, and Rob Cargill from Troup Bywaters + Ander’s co-hosting a session on refurbishing existing buildings to create sustainable offices. David and Rob spoke on day two in the second instalment of the conference’s sustainability series.

At the centre of the discussion that day was climate change and what the construction and adjacent industries can be doing to positively affect change and keep striving for net zero targets. Paul Ingham from Morrison Construction spoke about how it’s important to think about sustainability in a holistic sense, with each business needing to be sustainable in their own actions to be able to put it out into the market. Alongside that was David Rodger, CEO of AREG (Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group), reminding us that transition to new technologies is not a new thing and that energy transition has a huge part to play in getting things right for the planet.

80% of the buildings we will occupy in 2050 already exist.


Climate change is happening a lot faster than we realise, and the built environment has played a large role in that. And, according to Matt Clubb and Amar Bennadji from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment, we need to be retrofitting existing buildings if we want to combat this.

That was exactly the step we were looking to take with the recent refurbishment of 4-5 Lochside Avenue in Edinburgh. A joint venture with Troup Bywaters + Anders and Knight Property Group, SPACE provided architectural and interior design services to turn a tired and inefficient space into office accommodation that’s fossil fuel free, zero direct emissions, and aligned to net zero targets. Our primary focus was on refreshing the interior and transforming the building into brighter, more useful spaces that pulled on natural resources.

Rob Cargill and the team at Troup Bywaters + Anders led the project from the building’s performance side, investigating current net zero targets and looking at how these could be applied to Lochside. They established the opportunity for a full renewal of the building’s MEP, and the result was an all-electric, more energy efficient space.

The key to sustainability in the built environment is investing in existing buildings; it’s our challenge and it’s our opportunity. As Rob quoted in his presentation, “80% of the buildings we will occupy in 2050 already exist.” It will be a challenge to be sure, but one we have to accept if we want to start positively impacting change.

Vicki Walker, Business Development Director, Space Solutions

Vicki Walker, Business Development Director