Gaia were commissioned to carry out a feasibility study to explore the twin areas of refurbishment and ecological design giving particular attention to the issues associated with traditional and listed buildings where planning constraints are onerous.
Gaia was subsequently awarded a contract to renovate a listed tenement block on Nicolson Street in Edinburgh into a 'state of the art' affordable, sustainable refurbishment.
Energy efficiency was a major focus of the refurbishment and was seen as an important aspect in creating an affordable environment for low-income tenants. This was achieved through high levels of insulation, good airtightness levels, by installing low energy electrical fittings and by improving daylight levels in communal areas.
Emphasis was given to creating a healthy indoor climate. Only benign materials were used helping to create a healthy indoor climate. Materials with hygroscopic properties were specified to aid moisture management and combat moulds and mites. Experience was drawn from Gaia's research project, at Toll House Gardens, into low allergen environments.
The refurbishment considered community aspects, amenity (of particular importance in a building that has no access to external space), energy conservation, water conservation, healthy indoor climate, healthy materials, reuse and recycling. The construction process had to be approached logistically, because of the severely restricted site.