“Sustainability, as a term, is so broad that it’s almost not useful”, states Fiona Williamson, Regional Director of sustainable engineering at consultancy DSSR, “but it encompasses the most pressing issues we face in the world. Here at DSSR, we recognise that dealing with the Climate Emergency requires a paradigm shift in our behaviour—and needs to be done now.”

HeraldScotland: Fiona Williamson, Regional Director of sustainable engineering at consultancy DSSRFiona Williamson, Regional Director of sustainable engineering at consultancy DSSR

DSSR is an award-winning firm of Consulting Engineers, specialising in the design of sustainable Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEP) building services. Founded in 1945 by Donald Smith, Tommy Seymour and George Rooley, DSSR has built a rich engineering legacy, contributing to significant projects throughout the UK over the past 75 years - and the firm continues to be one of the most innovative privately-owned consultancies the UK. The company is currently managed by 6 Directors, supported by over 70 experienced engineering specialists based in offices in Glasgow, Manchester, Harrogate & London.

A forward-thinking firm with a legacy of resource efficient building designs, DSSR has contributed to a number of sustainability firsts throughout its 75 years in operation, including a number of landmark low carbon and renewable building projects.

In April 2021, the UK Government enshrined in law an updated target to slash Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. If reached, this will bring the UK more than three-quarters of the way to net zero by 2050. To ensure that these targets are achieved, the UK and devolved Governments are introducing new legislation and carbon taxes over the next 10 years which will require a significant shift in the priority placed by organisations on carbon reduction, which in turn will impact on the Construction Industry.

As stated in the ‘Building Services Engineers Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency’, the crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are two of the most serious issues of our time, and the built environment plays a major part, accounting for around 40% of the UK’s energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

By signing up to this member-led declaration, DSSR has committed to ensuring that the projects we work on will be designed to meet the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries.

“The crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are two of the most serious issues of our time, and the built environment plays a major part, accounting for around 40% of the UK’s energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.” The source of this quote comes from the ‘Building Services Engineers Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency’ which DSSR has signed.

Timeline of notable DSSR sustainability projects in the UK

HeraldScotland:

Harbour City, Salford Quay

130,000sqft office block which utilises the canal as a heat sink for water-cooled chillers to provide low energy cooling to the office building.

HeraldScotland:

Benbecula Wind Turbine

To provide electricity to the new school, not connected to the main grid, a 60kW wind turbine was installed.

HeraldScotland:

Bishopbriggs Leisuredrome 

The Leisuredrome has a cogeneration plant, a more efficient use of fuel or heat which utilises the otherwise-wasted heat from the electricity it generates on-site.

HeraldScotland:

TSB Branch Refit

Early adopters of Heat Recovery Heat Pumps, using VRF Technology to provide simultaneous heating & cooling, with heat recovery using a single heat pump unit.

HeraldScotland:

Islay Gaelic Community Centre

An early example of roofing slates which featured integrated photovoltaic solar panels to provide a portion of the buildings electrical demand.

HeraldScotland:

Great Glen House SNH HQ 

Scotland’s most sustainable building at construction, utilising passive design and local materials, it achieved the highest BREEAM score of any UK building.

HeraldScotland:

Ravenscraig Town Centre 

Development achieved the first ever BREEAM Communities Outline Planning Certification with an Excellent Rating.

HeraldScotland:

TECA Aberdeen Events Campus

Features the largest hydrogen fuel cell in UK (at the time) providing power, heat & cooling to conference centre, arena and AECC site.

HeraldScotland:

Ravenscraig: designing a sustainable town for the future

The innovative, award-winning designs for the future Ravenscraig town centre has created a step-change blueprint, helping to shape the future of Scotland’s plans for sustainable communities for years to come.

The site for the proposed Ravenscraig New Town in Scotland was home to the former Ravenscraig Steelworks closed in 1992.

After calls to find new uses for the land, and after several years of planning and preparatory work, Ravenscraig Ltd – a joint venture comprising Scottish Enterprise, Wilson Bowden Development, and Tata Steel was formed—with Cooper Cromar as the project’s masterplanner. The 450-hectare site is one of the largest brownfield sites in Europe, and the Masterplan will provide over 3000 residential units, 30,000m² Civic / Community, 55,000m² retail and commercial and 75,000 m² industrial.

Since 2007, DSSR have been involved in the evolution of the Sustainable Infrastructure and Energy Strategies for the Ravenscraig Masterplan and helped deliver the world’s first BREEAM Communities Excellent rated Sustainable Masterplan between 2010 and 2012.

Throughout the evolution of the Masterplan DSSR have been developing a utilities and energy approach focused on the efficient use of energy resources with a delivery strategy that supports the Scottish Governments Climate Change Plan towards Net Zero Carbon. By using specialist thermodynamic modelling tools to build a profile of heating, cooling and electric loads, a better understanding of the “collective” site behaviour has enabled a solution based on energy “swapping” between buildings and areas.  Buildings requiring heating at any point in time receive this from buildings rejecting heat, before looking to heat generating plant.

As the distribution of heating and cooling is carried out at relatively low temperatures, a very wide range of current energy solutions using decarbonised electricity, such as heat pumps can be used and new zero carbon technologies can be easily introduced in the future

It is conservatively estimated that this strategy will cut the total heating and cooling energy requirements for the site by at least 30%, reducing fuel poverty and with a fully decarbonised electricity grid, zero carbon heat will be provided.

For more information visit www.dssr.co.uk