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· Sahiba Chadha

Dialoguing your workspace

Cullinan Studio at the recent ISEP Refurbishment Workshop at Sadler’s Wells

As we’ve found with our own studio’s retrofit, you need to continue the critique and renewal of your building over the course of its lifetime. The handing over of keys is just the start of a journey where you must be open to “dialoguing” with your workspace! The Islington Sustainability Energy Partnership is now helping its membership (of which we are part) to engage in this dialogue and improve the performance of their own spaces.

Last week we joined XCO2 and ISEP to facilitate a members’ workshop for making the business case for refurbishment, after a wonderful tour of Sadler’s Wells’ recent upgrades including LED house lights (keeping both performers and audience measurably cooler) and informative talks by the Sadler's Wells team and XCO2. Most of us agreed that sharing events like this are a useful opportunity to sound out ideas, share knowledge of funding access and discuss our own retrofit experiences.

Cullinan’s workshop group included representatives from LSO St Luke’s, whose Grade 1 listed building renovated by Levitt Bernstein in 2003 is due for series of plant upgrades; London Metropolitan University whose Estates team is currently looking at the consolidation of its disparate sites across town into their main campus and the Free Word Centre who are at the beginning of a funding application aimed at improving performance of their listed building.

Here are a few soundbites from our session:

  1. Many members already had a programme of changes in hand but needed to step back and see the big picture. A simple story to your improvement works will work in your favour for funding applications right the way through to user buy in.
  2. It’s equally important to break down any programme into manageable deliverable chunks!
  3. Along the journey, make sure you are rigorous in your measurement of current building performance and your communication of your data in an easy digestible format. This sort of fact-finding is most valuable in supporting your aspirations.
  4. In terms of standards and certifications for the works, look into Fitwel as a simpler alternative to the Well Standard.

And it goes without saying that you should have a good consultant on board to aid the consultation process with proven retrofit experience!

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