SUSTAINABILITY : WE ALL PLAY A PART
Designing and creating a new garden is always different, each client, brief and setting brings something unique and this variability is what excites us. However there is one thing that is constant throughout and that is our focus on sustainability in design and construction. To us this means several things:
focusing on sustainable sourcing and ethical production/processing of the materials we use
considering the lifecycle of materials we specify, working toward using things in a more ‘circular’ way by re-using or re-cycling
minimising the input of resources and output of waste in our schemes both at creation of the garden and on an ongoing basis in their maintenance. At Hampton Court Garden Festival we re-homed and re-cycled a whopping 90% of the show garden. Of course the aim is for 100% whilst managing the carbon footprint of the event.
We find clients are increasingly knowledgable and keen to understand these issues and how we handle them as a business which is great.
Yes, sustainable materials can be more expensive initially, but they offer compelling environmental and ethical benefits, may reduce maintenance and utility (water) costs, can foster creativity! and using them can only drive suppliers and our industry to innovate and focus further on these issues.
We aim to source materials responsibly and from local suppliers wherever possible. When we build relationships with our suppliers we want to understand how they are considering sustainability and ethics in their supply and manufacture chain. For example:
London Stone are involved with a number of initiatives to manage an ethical supply chain including: a project to create Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) in Budhpura, a cobble producing region in Rajasthan; and the Forest Trust’s Responsible Stone Programme which helps provide visibility on foreign supply chains all the way down to quarry level.
Millboard consider sustainability at each phase of production. For example: transportation, production is in the UK so for domestic projects this reduces carbon impact; packaging, the wrap used to cover pallets for transportation is fully recyclable; and efficiency in use, the product has a long lifespan and unlike a timber has no natural defects so potentially lower wastage.
In the UK almost all decking timber is imported so traceability and understanding supply chain and responsible sourcing is key. Supplies should be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)® or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified. It’s important to consider not just the forestry of timber but the complete material lifecycle, including production and transportation processes.
Water is a precious resource and through the use of drought-tolerant planting which requires less watering, by specifying permeable paving to reduce water run off to mains drains and sewers we can help reduce our clients demand for mains water and add relief to the pressure placed on mains sewers during heavy down falls. Our RHS Gold award winning garden at Hampton Court this year demonstrated rain water harvesting, storage and holding excess water to create valuable wildlife habitats.
In planting schemes we strive to enhance biodiversity, plant for posterity and where possible, make best use of existing planting such as established trees which provide an important habitat for wildlife and add maturity and depth to a space. In an urban setting the incorporation of green roofs and walls can be a valuable tool.