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Challenges and solutions in sustainable construction – our new headquarters

Challenges and solutions in sustainable construction – our new headquarters
Ebba Lepage - Head of Corporate Sustainability

Ebba Lepage

Head of Corporate Sustainability

Our colleagues all under one roof

As the construction of Lombard Odier’s new global headquarters steadily progresses floor by floor, we recognise the importance of sustainable construction. Construction and the wider built environment accounts for around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is a sector where much improvement can be made1. The amount of waste generated by construction and demolition amounts to 60% of the overall total - 850 million tonnes2.

Throughout the process, we have encountered the sustainability challenges that construction entails. And, luckily, the often-surprising solutions. Our future headquarters aim to embody the highest sustainability standards via three sustainable construction certifications - SNBS (Standard Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz), Minergie-P and BREEAM®. These measure the environmental, social and economic sustainability performances of buildings, including climate resilience.

 

The challenges of sustainable construction

Construction and demolition waste materials in Switzerland and the rest of EU have high recovery rate of up to 70%3 (they are reintroduced in large quantities into the economy). But this recovery rate is mainly based on backfilling operations - such as reusing soil that is removed during the excavation - and low-grade recovery which excludes many materials. For instance, the overall share of recycled concrete in Swiss and EU construction is less than 20%4

…the overall share of recycled concrete in Swiss and EU construction is less than 20%

Despite our best efforts to use recycled materials in the structure of our new building, the geological composition of the soil is making the reuse of materials less well suited for our project and prevents us from reusing excavation materials. Also, the volumes of recycled concrete required would not be available through suppliers nearby and long transportation routes would counteract the positive impact we wish to achieve.

Read also: Lombard Odier lays the foundation stone of its future global headquarters in Bellevue

Creating sustainable headquarters

The materials used in the building are strictly controlled to ensure an optimal indoor air quality. We must detail the components of all materials, such as paint, glue and textiles to ensure no harmful ingredients can affect the air we breathe. It is not easy to ensure a 100% supply of certified materials and components as the supply chains are long and not always easy to control. While this is an area in the construction industry where much work can be done, we have seen how some suppliers have stepped up and paid for product certifications as a result of our strict demands on sustainability. They realise that such product certifications will be useful with many more customers other than Lombard Odier. Improving your supply chain is part of a responsible construction.

We will also install solar panels and a green roof covering 80% of the roof surface

Another challenging area but one where our actions have a direct, positive impact is energy, our second largest source of GHG emissions at Group level. A sustainable building is efficient in terms of maintenance and allows for many solutions to reduce energy use through heat recovery, motion sensitive light and other automation features. We will also install solar panels and a green roof. The green roof, covering 80% of total roof surface, allows for cooling the air underneath the panels as well as helping remove atmospheric pollutants, reducing the need for maintenance of the panels. We do not yet know where future developments might take us. Will we be able to produce so much own energy that we will get close to self-sufficiency in a few years?

The green roof allows for cooling the air underneath the panels as well as helping remove atmospheric pollutants, reducing the need for maintenance of the panels

Sowing the seeds, reaping the benefits

Our building will largely be covered in windows and will allow for a workplace filled with natural light, which studies have shown improves employee satisfaction and productivity. This is because natural light helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm and reduces eye-strain and headaches. Since natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting during daytime hours, energy costs are lower. However, too much natural light and sunshine can become a problem, with glare reflecting into people’s eyes and onto computer screens while the indoor space gets warmer and consequently energy is consumed to lower the indoor temperature. In our building, we have ensured that the outside balconies are deep enough to cut the amount of sunlight in the summer. The majority of employees will be seated close to large windows, often enjoying the view on Lake Geneva and the Alps. But when the light remains too strong we will still need to adjust it through traditional outside blinds and potentially indoor curtains. Our first year in the building will allow us to refine a number of challenges that can only be fully addressed when we are installed.

Our building will largely be covered in windows and will allow for a workplace filled with natural light, which studies have shown improves employee satisfaction and productivity

Our sustainability strategy includes the reduction of consumption of drinkable water. We will therefore collect rainwater in a 200 m3 container in the basement. This water will be used in the employee toilets and for irrigation. Rainwater is soft by nature, which means that it contains less minerals than treated water. Why can’t we integrate rainwater in more uses in the building? Simply because the annual volume of rainwater in our region is consistently decreasing.

 

Playing our role

Sustainability in construction projects is crucial, and the focus must be on true areas of impact. As we get into the details of our future headquarters, after the construction phase, we are embracing a number of initiatives that cover diverse areas such as green mobility, employee well-being and biodiversity. Sustainability is a work in progress and we are excited to see how our future headquarters can play its role.

 

1 https://architecture2030.org/why-the-building-sector/#:~:text=Buildings%20generate%20nearly%2040%25%20of,for%20an%20additional%2011%25%20annually
https://www.marsh.com/au/industries/construction/insights/the-future-of-construction-report.html
https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/construction-and-demolition-waste-challenges/construction-and-demolition-waste-challenges/download.pdf.static
https://www.24heures.ch/les-materiaux-recycles-peinent-a-simposer-dans-le-batiment-915662597583

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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