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The broader environment

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Technical

A lot of work has also been put into analysing environmental impacts of the materials and systems to be used. For example:

95 per cent of wastewater will be recycled in basement plant. Sedimentation will be followed by biological processing, ceramic filtration, uv treatment and chlorination. In principle the water will then be potable, though it will only be used for wc flushing (55 per cent) and irrigation of planting in lobbies and outdoors plus cooling towers.

Where there is environmental concern about materials without conclusive evidence or specific standards, the design is likely to take the precaution of avoiding them where possible, such as pvc and mdf, or sealing the mineral fibre insulation in plastic bags. The fsc (Forest Stewardship Council) guarantee system is seen as the only reliable one for timber specification; as well as internal joinery, the external gable ends will be clad in timber.

Stainless steel rather than aluminium may be used in cladding framing on the grounds of reduced embodied energy.

For indoor air quality, the Commission's standard is 19.5 litres/s/ person. This compares with a uk no-smoking standard of 8 l/s/p and a light- smoking standard of 16 l/s/p. There is, of course, an energy cost to treating more air. Air intakes are now on the eleventh floor rather than the fifth, where the air is less polluted, reducing fresh air requirements.

Materials from the partial demolition will not be recycled for fear of asbestos contamination.

Ideally, painting/coating will be avoided. If not, they will use water- based paints or ecolabelled paints .

Overall, the design looks promising. The ec brief stresses a suitable sobriety. This design promises a lighter touch than the normal heavy hand of bureaucracy. The Berlaymont building project will be one of the case studies at the British Council for Offices conference, supported by the aj, in London on Thursday 11 February. Ticket details, tel: 01722 339811, fax: 01722 331313

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