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The role of sustainable architecture in achieving net zero

November 3, 2021

Net zero building design and architecture: Setting the brief

“Every project should select some sustainability ‘stretch’ targets so that there is an opportunity to innovate on every new site, and improve with every new project that we tackle.”

Passivhaus Certified Designer and Sustainability Director Vicki Odili discussed tp bennett’s  approach to bridging the performance gap in a webinar for Building Magazine.

A key element of bridging the performance gap on our collective paths to Net Zero Carbon is getting the brief right. We need to have measurable

sustainable architecture targets and metrics embedded in every project brief. That can either be with relevant accreditations such as BREEAM and WELL, provided that we are targeting the best level of performance, or by using the excellent guidance available from the work of LETI, RIBA and UKGBC. These targets ensure that the entire design team can stay on track to deliver enhanced levels of sustainability across a range of topics, from lower embodied and operational carbon to greater biodiversity.

Leading Techniques in Green Building Design

On the Net Zero Live webinar, where Vicki was joined by Alasdair Donn of Willmott Dixon, Jim Saywell of Buro Happold and Peter Fisher of Bennetts Associates, the focus of the panel discussion was on operational energy. The entire panel was in agreement about the usefulness of NABERS for Commercial Offices. This is also what our teams at tp bennett are finding on the wide range of commercial offices and fit out projects that we are working on. The greater clarity that we have on the projected performance of the building, and the measures that need to be implemented to achieve that greater level of performance, the better the outcomes for all future occupants.

Renewable energy in architecture

Vicki discussed a project from our Leeds office that has recently been completed – 11 & 12 Wellington Place, Leeds. It is a Design for Performance Pioneer Project and the first to target NABERS 5 star outside of London.  Having the NABERS 5 Star operational energy target on this project has been a golden thread throughout the development and has ensured that the delivery team are focussed on any potential weak points that may reduce the targeted level of performance.

Having the right targets at the outset ensures that the quality of the finished project can be accurately measured against these defined metrics. Every project should select some sustainability ‘stretch targets’ so that there is an opportunity to innovate on every new site, and improve with every new project that we tackle.