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DEFRA's headquarters, Nobel House in Smith Square London, underwent a complete internal refurbishment in 2005. As DEFRA's remit as an organisation is the achievement of sustainable development, the refurbishment of their headquarters was an opportunity to achieve an exemplar sustainability standards within construction.





Preliminary BREEAM assessments were undertaken at the design stage of the project. A sustainability charter was then developed to set key targets for the project. The key objectives were: 

  • specification of materials with high recycled content
  • re-use or recycling of excess materials generated by the demolition and refurbishment works
  • minimising waste from construction activities
  • achieving a BREEAM excellent rating

Product options were assessed by the design and contractors teams against these sustainability criteria:  

  • economic value of the material
  • whole life costs
  • suitability for task
  • programme implications
  • distance travelled
  • waste produced
  • disposal options

 The process identified a number of high recycled content products for use in the project. For example, a high recycled content carpet tile (80%) was chosen from 15 options and utilised across the entire project.

The re-use of waste materials generated from the demolition was also prioritised, with an assessment of the demolition process showing that 70% of all construction waste was recycled or diverted from landfill.





Project team

Appleyards Consulting


Davis Langdon


Lawrence Hewitt Partnership

further information