Sustainability and creating great sustainable design is a priority for GAJ Interiors, and with the Vision for 2030 we know it is also important to the Emirates. We recognise that the future generations are the ones that will benefit the most from energy efficiency and recycled materials in construction. For this reason, sustainable school design is an important aspect of planning for the generations ahead. Energy usage, water consumption and reuse, as well as the building materials used in construction, are all important ways to create sustainable schools. With our work on the Ladybird Early Learning Centre, we developed an early education setting that was the first in the Middle East and the fourth worldwide to receive the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Gold Certification.
Ladybird Early Learning Centre
With a focus on a design that speaks to the needs of students, faculty, staff, and parents we developed a centre that inspires learning and growth. Beyond the layout of the floor plan and meeting the needs of education, we created a building that responds to the needs of the environment. Through well-researched and specific measures, the project addressed sustainable practices from construction to building completion and beyond.
One important element of sustainable design is water consumption. Because water is a central part of sustainability, we made sure to address water needs in a variety of ways, starting from the outside and working the way into the building. We approached water drainage by specifying soakaways to control storm water runoff on the exterior. The building also recycles the drain water from air conditioning and the condensation from HVAC components to be re-used for irrigation. Sanitary appliances are often a huge aspect of water consumption for buildings. In the Ladybird Early Learning Centre, the flow rates of water were reduced with water-saving sanitary appliances and met LEED standards for water use reduction.
Another large aspect of sustainable building design is examining and reducing energy consumption. For the Ladybird Early Learning Centre, we began addressing energy consumption through engineering highly insulated mass walls, installing high-performance glass, and decreasing the conductance of heat on the roof. These measures translate into using less electricity to obtain comfortable interior temperatures. This was further addressed by installing interior energy-efficient ceiling fans and connecting the HVAC to building management controls. When doors or windows are opened, the system will shut down the air conditioning, reducing energy consumption automatically. In addition to this, the building is lit with efficient LED lighting. Control systems are capable of sensing daylight and incorporates occupancy motion sensors to turn lights on or off automatically.
Materials and Construction
A large part of waste and consumption happens during the construction of buildings. With this project and with the goal of LEED certification, we paid close attention to reducing energy and waste throughout the construction phase. By sourcing local materials as much as possible, carbon emissions in the transport of materials can be reduced. For this centre, 25 per cent of the construction materials were sourced within an 800km radius. In addition to this, 25 per cent of the building materials are recycled. Because off-gassing and air quality is a large part of health and wellness, as well as sustainability, once construction was complete we worked to optimise indoor environment quality prior to occupancy. For 600 post-construction hours, fresh air was blown into the unoccupied building to ensure great indoor air quality.
All of these steps, procedures, and plans were used to create a better building design, but also to meet the LEED requirements set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council. Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) is a point system that specifically measures the steps taken by designers, architects, builders, engineers, and owners to create sustainable buildings. Through the LEED process, a building can earn points towards certification. Depending on the points accrued, a building can be either Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. With 72 points accrued the Ladybird Early Learning Centre has earned the Gold Certification.
GAJ Interiors employ some of the most qualified interior design consultants in Dubai, and while our sustainability work is a huge part of our interior design, we also incorporate it into all aspect of our firm. As a Dubai-based British company, we are a full-service solution for sustainable design, planning, and building. The LEED Gold certification is but a small example of the expertise and effort that our award winning company puts forth in every project.