One reader reflects that working collaboratively brings great results. Not that it would necessarily do much to make energy saving in a conservation area cost-effective or help a full-time dad find work

BREEAM dream team

I was interested to read the article on 10 ways to make your office outstanding in BREEAM’s eyes, based on PwC’s new offices on the South Bank (15 July, page 52).

The reason PwC has been able to achieve such improvements goes back to the collaborative approach taken by both the developer and the user.

From the outset in 2006, when Grontmij worked on the base building design, the developer targeted a BREEAM 2006 “excellent” rating - the highest available at that point. Without steps taken at this stage, its current BREEAM 2008 “outstanding” rating would almost certainly not have been possible, or at least a lot less affordable than the £2.50/m2 quoted in your article.

The improvements that BDP made may have only added 2% to the building cost but this was due to work carried out in the design to obtain BREEAM credits above and beyond those expected of a city centre development.

The efforts made with the design of the building and its central plant greatly reduced the CO2 emissions when compared with the minimum standards of a Part L compliant building. These include high efficiency chillers with a design based around a chilled beam installation and the facade engineering carried out to shape the building such that solar gains were reduced while still maintaining a good level of natural daylight. These are among many other initiatives carried by good design for great results.

Working closely with the base building design team and collaborating with the end user - PwC - from the earliest possible stage was essential and allowed them to, together, create this inspirational building. I hope that what has been created here does indeed go on to inspire others as to what can be achieved by using a collaborative approach.

Peter Hale, executive engineer, Grontmij

Try and green this

Regarding Ian Baker’s article (22 July, page 31), I challenge him to be able to bring my three-storey Victorian semi-detached house, situated in a conservation area, up to 2016 energy and water efficiency standards at a cost-effective price. On the face of it, lining the internal surfaces of the external walls may seem a simple operation. However all rooms have complex cornicing requiring skilled labour to reproduce and the detailing around the bay windows would be complex. The third storey ceilings follow the roof line and would have to be removed before extra insulation could be installed. The whole house would then have to be redecorated.
The payback period in reduced energy bills without outside subsidy would, I am sure, be excessive and in the current climate I doubt if I could recoup the costs if I wished to sell.

John Medlock, managing director, Axter

Dads struggle too

Regarding your story “Bringing up baby” (15 July, page 31), it’s not just mums that have this problem. I am a full-time dad and an accomplished project manager. I have been out of work for the last two years because nobody wants a part-time project manager … It is a big problem and there doesn’t seem to be a solution to it.

Ivan Young, via