Wind and Solar

Depending on your location solar panels and wind turbines can be used to harness energy. This can be used to power your electrics and excess power can be sold back to the grid. Solar panels can be used to create electricity and to heat water. Using solar power to heat water used for underfloor heating is an efficient use for solar panels in the UK.


A wood boiler is a logical option for a heating system that uses renewable resources. Clients with forested land that can be managed to supply the wood burner will offer extremely low-cost and efficient heat.


Rain water can be harvested for use in the garden and for toilet flushing. In addition reed bed filtration can be utilized to naturally dispose of waste water and effluence. Another option for effluence is self composting toilets.


Sites which have access to a burn with sufficient flow & head may be able too utilise a micro hydro scheme to produce electricity. This can be used to power your electrics and excess power can be sold back to the grid.


According to Defra, 109 million tonnes of waste is produced in the construction industry each year. As architects, we can have the most impact on controlling waste at the earliest stages of design. By specifying products that require less packaging, are sourced locally and made of eco friendly materials we begin to design out waste. Similarly, reusing excavated soil on the site can significantly reduce landfill contributions as well as waste fees for the client.


At McInnes Gardner, we realize our responsibility to the environment and our role within the building industry. Sustainability covers a broad number of issues related to buildings and each of our clients have their own focus and goals for engaging with sustainability. We have worked with clients who have a goal to be entirely self sufficient, to projects that endeavor to teach visitors about sustainability, clients who need to meet Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes to clients who simply want to reduce their running costs.

There is a misconception that ‘eco-friendly’ design is cost prohibitive when in reality, there are so many options that sustainable design can certainly be affordable and can even save costs. Many aspects of sustainable design actually cost nothing. For instance a house can be designed to have an orientation to the sun that is most beneficial, which means no extra cost. Similarly, a building designed with stack ventilation can eliminate the need for air conditioners and save purchase, installation and running costs of unnecessary machinery.

We have listed some of the other issues we address in our designs in relation to sustainability.


Passive solar design

Passive solar design uses the natural movement of heat and air to maintain comfortable temperatures, operating with little or no mechanical assistance. The point is to design the building to maximize the benefits it receives from the sun using the five basic solar design principles: orientation, overhangs, insulation, windows and thermal mass.


Using sustainable and green building materials can help reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of building industry source materials.

They are composed of renewable resources and are environmentally responsible because impacts are considered over the life of the product.

There are many sustainable and/or green materials available and it is getting easier to identify these.

We look for materials that do not contain any harmful or contaminating chemicals. This is to avoid pollution in the manufacturing stage and in the product’s legacy but also to avoid off-gassing contaminates inside buildings.

Wood is sourced form sustainable sources including wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and with a chain of custody where possible.

Some other commonly used sustainable materials include block work made from recycled cement, sheep’s wool for insulation and low emission solvent free adhesives.

Stack effect

Stack effect is a natural way to cool a building and avoid the use of air conditioning. Stack ventilation is temperature induced.

When there is a temperature difference between two adjoining volumes of air the warmer air will have lower density and be more

buoyant thus will rise above the cold air creating an upward air stream.