Blog chris walker

Guest Blog: Chris Walker, Nick Brown Architects

Chris Walker, Nick Brown Architects: Towards carbon zero in Leeds with NorDan

Nick Brown Architects has developed a strong reputation over recent years for its part in the regeneration and expansion of Leeds city centre.

Working together on high profile projects such as Springwell Gardens, a vibrant 223 apartment development in Whitehall Road, and Ironworks, a holistically sustainable project of 15 townhouses and 57 apartments in Holbeck Urban Village, NorDan and Nick Brown Architects have built a formidable partnership.

In this guest blog, senior architect Chris Walker explains how NorDan is helping Nick Brown Architects to meet, and exceed, rising construction standards, and Leeds towards its carbon zero goal.

Nick Brown Architects

I joined Nick Brown Architects around three years ago, and over that time I’ve seen the company consolidate its reputation at the forefront of the regeneration and expansion of Leeds city centre, particularly in Holbeck, where we have a few exciting projects on the horizon next year.

Most of our projects are regeneration in character. New residential developments and buildings that bring renewed life and purpose to an area.

As a practice we live and breathe Leeds and use our knowledge of the city’s heritage to shape developments that reflect the unique character and background of that location, and this means approaching each scheme on the merits of the site.

We want to make sure that the city’s heritage and unique personality is embedded in Leeds’ regeneration and renewal.

NorDan and net zero

As part of the aspiration to make Leeds zero carbon by 2030, Leeds City Council set in place Core Strategy Policy EN1. As this requires major developments to be 20% more energy efficient than Building Regulations, it gives us even more motivation to use the highest performing, lowest carbon products and materials available.

Because NorDan’s products offer such high insulation and low U values they offer a consistent and safe option to achieving these targets.

We’ve known NorDan products for a while, and they have always been our go-to high performing window. We know the values that NorDan achieve with their products are a safe bet.

Some developers may push back on our specification of NorDan windows, particularly on smaller schemes in Leeds that aren’t subject to the 20% minimum performance improvement.

However, when they understand that people want to buy homes that are cheaper to run, they better understand the value. Sustainability is now positioned as a selling point, and sustainability is financial as well as environmental.

People want to live in a building that is low carbon and low cost to run, making a positive contribution to slowing climate change.

The good news is that sustainability is becoming more affordable, and the price comparison between double and triple glazed windows, for example, is negligible.

Springwell Gardens and Ironworks

We’ve had great feedback on Springwell Gardens, and the same with Ironworks, which are seen as having a positive impact on the area. The buildings integrate well with their surroundings.

On both projects, we knew that NorDan would deliver products that performed to the highest standards and would look right.

Although Springwell Gardens has a concrete frame, it should perform well thermally, and a key part of this is triple glazed NorDan windows with low U-Values. We also include solar panels on the roof and the scheme is fully electric.

As NorDan gives us the option of the aluminium clad or natural timber effect, depending on the type of project, this allows us to be sympathetic to the location.

The Juliet balcony by Q-Rail at Springwell Gardens is an example of the flexibility that NorDan offers us. It is a clean and aesthetically pleasing solution for balcony doors.

Future Homes Standard

The recent interim changes to building regulations have been a moderate step in the right direction, as we move towards 2025 and the Future Homes Standard.

At Nick Brown Architects we’re already working with 2025 in mind, meeting those standards, and specifying NorDan windows and wall thickness for insulation, leaving space for air source heat pumps to be located outside of buildings, and designing in solar panels and district heating.

Ten years ago, when I first qualified as an architect, products of NorDan’s level of specification and performance were seen as high-end - in the ‘grand designs’ category.

Over time, public and industry consciousness of sustainability has brought the long-term benefits of NorDan’s products into the mainstream.

Most people care about carbon reduction and performance and understand why this is important. They don’t need convincing.

Find out more about Nick Brown Architects at: NICK BROWN : ARCHITECTS | Leeds Architects (

Read more about meeting rising construction standards with NorDan products: Specifying windows & doors in a climate emergency: My CPD | NorDan UK

Dec 20, 2022
Go back

Explore NorDan · A leading window and door manufacturer