Our afternoon talks & workshops included:
Defining Carbon Zero – Thomas Henderson Schwartz
Tom’s talk was about understanding the accepted definition of zero carbon buildings as defined by UKGBC. A quick summary of the definition was followed by some of the practicalities. For example, the importance of looking at the embodied energy vs the energy savings whilst the building is in use; whilst triple glazing might reduce the energy used to heat a space during the lifespan of the building this saving may not be equivalent to the extra energy used to produce the glazing in the first place.
Alternatives to Carbon Zero – Nina Anderson
Nina gave an overview of different systems for validating the environmental performance of a building, including Building Regulations, Passivhaus and BREEAM, and the potential issues with carbon counting. This was followed by an introduction to the Energy Cost Metric, a tool for comparing different options by weighing up energy (embodied energy, material transport energy, reclaimable energy, in-use energy and occupant transport energy) against cost. Examples were shown of how it has been used by Max Fordham at the University of Cambridge Civil Engineering building.
Ashmount Primary School, Crouch Hill Community Park – Rafael Marks
Rafael presented a case study on our award-winning project that has transformed a socially threatening, derelict piece of metropolitan open land into a BREEAM Outstanding, carbon negative, exemplary learning and recreational environment for the whole community.
How Can Buildings Change Behaviour? – Thomas Henderson Schwartz
Tom’s workshop looked at how the physical architecture and infrastructure of a space could potentially change human behaviour to reduce carbon emissions. Groups were tasked with looking at one typology (housing, hospital, school) and first identifying what the uses of energy were and then designing out/reducing these elements. For example, in schools, a large portion of emissions arise from children being driven to school and cars idling as they wait. The design of a school could therefore provide sufficient drop-off space to avoid idling and preferably be sited such that it is more easily accessible by public transport.
Make Materials Matter – Kate Edmondson
Kate’s talk touched on how architects and design teams can focus on reducing embodied carbon during the RIBA Work Stages as well as suggesting an approach for clients to take, noting the financial benefits. Designers can make a difference through simple carbon saving actions such as using less materials and selecting alternative materials with low embodied carbon. The greater use of materials in order to reduce operational carbon emissions, needs a refreshed mindset in order to cut embodied carbon further. For example; more efficient building design; reduce on-site waste; increase off-site construction; re-use and deconstruction strategies; re-used or higher recycled content products, lower transport distances and selecting highly durable materials. We need to research materials, be more inquisitive and question suppliers early on.
Changing Policy – Harriet Francis
Harriet closed our day by looking at the larger picture, and the unique position Architects have in terms of influencing policy and legislation. A brief presentation analysed the structure of the planning framework and the work that is being done by various organisations and professions to influence the New London Plan. It also reviewed CIBSE’s recent work into overheating and its influence on legislations part L and F.
The talk ended in discussions about what Penoyre & Prasad are currently doing and how we can do more. Ideas included undertaking more of our own research, reaching out to universities and think-tanks, and mandatory post occupancy reviews. We will continue our commitment to designing and delivering exceptional projects that embody the principles discussed throughout the day.