At AET, we welcomed 2021 with cautious optimism, as the construction industry seems to have proven itself fairly resilient against the twin challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit. Happily, the 2021 lockdown has proven to be far less disruptive to the construction industry than the first lockdown, and we have been able to continue working to deliver our underfloor air conditioning systems to our growing project portfolio.
Award winning innovation
We were thrilled to finish off 2020 with some great news, that we had won the ‘Retrofit Project of the Year’ at the H&V News Awards for our work on the 24 St James Square project. The expert judging panel particularly highlighted the innovative use of our underfloor air conditioning system to address “the challenge of a historic site with low ceiling height and extensive period features.”
Our underfloor systems really do give a huge amount more flexibility and scope when working on historic and period projects, as they can be designed to enhance the existing features, rather than cover them up. You can read more about our work on 24 St James Square here.
The future is flexible
Along with everyone else, we have been looking at the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 on the workplace. We know that physical workspaces are still going to play an important role in the future, but that doesn’t mean that they are not going to look radically different.
Although many of us have embraced home working in the past year, we have all struggled with being less productive than we are in an office, and when we return to the workplace we are going to want a space which prioritises productivity and flexibility, to allow us to make the most of our time in the office. Many people have also missed the chance to have contact time with their teams, and collaborative spaces within workplaces are going to be vital for a return to the office, especially if fewer people are at their desks full-time.
The good news for us and our partners is that our underfloor air conditioning systems are ideally suited for these new, flexible, ever-changing workspaces. Unlike ceiling-based systems, which are highly disruptive and costly due to time, high level working, and materials required – our underfloor systems can be altered within minutes with little to no disruption and at a fraction of the cost compared to ceiling based. We have been working on some exciting projects throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, and we can’t wait for the end-users to start enjoying these stunning workspaces.
The ‘green’ recovery
Sustainability is also rightly at the top of the agenda for 2021, and the construction industry is facing growing demands to prioritise retrofitting older buildings, rather than new builds. This has long been a puzzling area of policy, as there are more incentives for knocking down existing buildings and building from scratch, than there are for working to preserve our existing building, but it is great to see that the tide is starting to change on this.
There is still some scepticism amongst some about the suitability and hidden costs of renovating existing buildings, especially when it comes to creating modern, light, and energy efficient office space. However, a recently completed project of ours should alleviate many of those concerns. With growing concerns over climate change and the finite nature of construction resources, it is vital that as an industry we reduce our environmental impact and embrace the advantages of new technologies to improve sustainability and adaptability.
Harella House, a 1930s warehouse and former clothing factory, has been transformed into six floors of premium office space. Not only did this project achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, but it is also estimated that the refurbished building achieves a 47% reduction in carbon emissions. The project has now also led AET to a nomination for the Sustainability Award at the EG Tech Awards 2021, and the H&V News Awards Retrofit Project of Year – both of which we are incredible proud of. Read more about how our underfloor air conditioning system boosted Harella House’s sustainability here.