SEPTEMBER 5, 2017
LONDON—Jehovah’s Witnesses are building a new administrative facility in Britain and their design and construction methods have been certified as Outstanding, the highest rating available according to the world’s leading sustainability assessment standard, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). The Witnesses’ facility, is located about 70 kilometers (43 mi) east of London, in Chelmsford, Essex, and is only the second BREEAM Communities scheme to have received the top rating.
BREEAM, developed by the renowned building science center BRE (Building Research Establishment), measures the sustainability of construction projects, infrastructure, and buildings in a variety of key categories: energy, health and well-being, innovation, land use, materials, management, pollution, transport, waste, and water. Projects then receive ratings of either Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, or Outstanding. In order to approve the Witnesses’ plan for a new facility, the Chelmsford City Council required the project to meet sustainable design targets, one of which was a minimum BREEAM rating of Very Good. Neil Jordan, the Chelmsford City Council senior planning officer of the directorate for sustainable communities, comments on the Witnesses’ project: “We are pleased that Jehovah’s Witnesses have so fully embraced such requirements for this development, even exceeding the standards expected by the city council.” He adds that the project “can now rightly be noted as a source of pride within our city, acting as a beacon for achieving the highest environmental standards.”
In a noteworthy addition to the Outstanding certification, the project was also recognized for its innovation in green design. The Witnesses were able to reduce their carbon emissions by 2,250 metric tons (2,480 tons) by housing workers on-site and transporting them using minibuses and other sustainable methods of transport. This garnered the Witnesses a BREEAM Communities “innovation credit,” the first of its kind. Mr. Jordan explains that the project was “instrumental in finding new ways to reduce a carbon footprint, succeeding in gaining accreditation along the way in specific areas never before achieved within the BREEAM Communities environmental scheme.”
Mr. Pallab Chatterjee, a BREEAM assessor, comments on his experience working with the Witnesses and their interaction with the larger community: “I liked the positive and friendly attitude on the construction site, which is very rare. The Witnesses sought to include as many of the BREEAM sustainability items into the design as possible. Their focus was to introduce a sustainable design that would bring value to the scheme instead of [simply] achieving BREEAM credits. I was impressed with the extensive consultation that has taken place with the local communities and the future occupiers. This has been one of my favorite projects to work on.”
Andrew Schofield, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Britain, states: “For almost 60 years, our administrative operations for Britain have been located in London. However, larger facilities became necessary due to the increased demand for Bible-related literature and materials. We began site preparation on the 34-hectare (approx. 85 a.) property in April 2015 and expect to complete construction by the end of 2019.”
International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000
United Kingdom: Andrew Schofield, +44-20-8906-2211