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North East’s first net-zero office scheme receives approval

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South Tyneside Council’s planning committee has given approval to Muse Developments, to bring forward The Glassworks – a unique 4,600m2 office building in South Shields that will set a new standard for sustainable development in the region.

The BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ Glassworks is designed to be fossil-fuel free, ultra-low energy and achieve the UK Green Building Council’s 2025 net-zero office energy performance target. Both Muse and the council are also committing to verify the scheme’s operational performance using the new NABERS UK rating system.

During the design stage of the scheme’s inception, partners undertook early-stage whole life and upfront embodied carbon assessments to eliminate inefficiencies where possible and reduce the building’s whole carbon footprint. The steel structure of the scheme has been designed to offer a reduction in embodied carbon of approximately 40%, as well as using 66% cement replacement for both the sub and superstructures. This is said to result in the scheme reducing its upfront embodied carbon intensity down to 685kgCO2/m2 compared with over 1100kgCO2/m2 for a typical development of this type.

Andrew Fairest, Projects Director at Muse Developments, said: “To receive the news that we’ve been given approval to bring forward our latest sustainable development at The Glassworks, represents a strong endorsement of our commitment to building back better in South Tyneside and the work we’ve done to date in the town.

“Despite the challenging times we’re in, we’re still seeing a demand for high-quality office space, that not only provides an agile and positive environment to work from, but is also climate resilient and adaptable to our changing world.”

John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), said: “It’s great to see this ambitious project pass this crucial milestone. Going for net-zero carbon in its operation, with a stringent energy performance target is absolutely the right approach, and ensures the building is fit for the future. It’s also encouraging to see the plans for significant reductions in embodied carbon through innovative product and material selection. It demonstrates fantastic leadership from Muse and the whole team.”

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