We’ve been working with one of our Developer clients and a multidisciplinary design team over the last year to achieve a ‘truly sustainable’ model of housing. We used one particular project as a case study with the intention to apply the principles to all future projects we do together. It has informed everything we do since and we have adopted many of the principles in our work, particularly where they are passive or cost-neutral solutions, depending only on design thinking.
The first move was to understand what is out there in terms of standards, definitions and what has been built. Passive Haus is the best known standard and this focuses mainly on operational energy use. It doesn’t concern itself with the full cradle to cradle life-cycle of the building.
‘Truly Sustainable’ is to be defined by four principles:
To be Carbon Positive (generate more energy than it requires to operate over the course of a year where the excess energy offsets its embodied carbon over its first 25 years in operation)
To be Zero Waste in Construction and in operation.
To be Cost neutral, ie. to achieve an environmentally sustainable building at the financial cost of a ‘standard’ building.
To create a Health and wellbeing focused development.
The following design moves are currently considered cost neutral and applicable to any scheme:
Optimised Structure, structural spans limited to 4m or less to accommodate standard timber construction and avoid the use of steel.
Compact Massing, to minimise heat loss.
Orientation of buildings and roofs within 20% of the East West axis to optimise for winter solar heat gains, daylighting and solar energy generation.
Influence Occupants Behaviour through phone App, smart meters, gamification, Lifestyle guide.
Landscape Design: e.g edible plants, create seasonal shading, collect water.
Community Uses (Garden, well-being Space, Outdoor Kitchen, Reuse and Sharing room)