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Inspiring sustainability: a short story

Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) are Britain’s entry in the America’s Cup, competitive sailing’s biggest prize and the oldest trophy in any international sport.

As a sustainability professional, I have a passion for the work I’m involved in to shape our built environment in a way that has a positive impact on people and the planet. But to the wider industry and general public, sustainability can sometimes be an intangible or uninspiring topic. So when a project comes along that provides a reminder of why sustainability is cool, it’s important that those of us championing the cause share our experiences. Here’s my story of the week…  

Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) are Britain’s entry in the America’s Cup, competitive sailing’s biggest prize and the oldest trophy in any international sport. As a team, Land Rover BAR aim to become the first ever British team to win the America’s Cup and in doing so to ‘Bring The Cup Home’ to where it all began in 1851. Alongside this aim, Land Rover BAR are committed to being the most sustainable sports team they can be, using their influence as role models in society to inspire others. This weekend, the team will be setting sail in Portsmouth in the latest race of the current series and I was lucky enough to visit their new team base in the run-up to this event and experience first-hand their sustainability ethos.

Land Rover BAR atrium
Atrium space linking offices to shed

Approaching the Land Rover BAR headquarters on The Camber in Portsmouth, I was struck by the presence of the building and its impressive ‘wrap’, which gives a visual echo of the sails seen on the many yachts out on the Solent. Inside the building, the sense of teamwork and commitment to a common goal is exemplified by cues such as the atrium space joining the offices with the central workshop area (referred to as the ‘shed’), where innovative new technologies are developed and the yachts are assembled. The building was completed in July 2015, and a year into occupation it’s clearly serving its purpose as a high-quality yet functional and adaptable space in which the team are able to thrive. Walking around the building, it feels light and airy and it’s hard not to be inspired by quotes and buzzwords inscribed on many of the walls.

So why was I there? I was meeting with Susie Tomson, Sustainability Manager at Land Rover BAR, and other key members of the project team responsible for delivery of the new building, to interview them about the sustainability credentials of the building with the aim of producing a short video case study. It quickly became apparent that the biggest challenge we had in this task would be keeping the video short, simply because each person we spoke to had so many positive comments about the achievements of the project and how this links to the success of the racing team… we came away with over an hour of great content to fit into 3 minutes!

Land Rover BAR beehotel
Bee hotel promoting biodiversity

Examples of innovative and sustainable solutions implemented on the project include a biodiversity hub boosting ecology on the site as well as creating a pleasant working environment; bike storage reducing reliance on cars whilst also supporting team wellbeing; and solar panels providing 20% of the building’s energy whilst also benefitting young people in the local community via feed-in-tariff payments going to the 1851 Trust. Plus, the whole project was delivered within very tight timescales using BIM (Building Information Modelling), which in conjunction with a detailed POE (Post Occupancy Evaluation) process is enabling a better understanding of how the building operates and therefore ensures ideal lighting and temperature levels throughout the year, as well as minimal energy costs.

With our own challenging deadline to meet (creating the video ahead of the Portsmouth race!), I was delighted to capture the passion of the project team on film and to be able to share the sustainability story of the Land Rover BAR team base with a global audience. Please take a moment to watch it and I hope you take inspiration from it too!