LTS’ Anna Woodeson recently contributed to an AJ article which invited five leaders in the sustainability field what immediate steps architects could take towards achieving a zero-carbon built environment in the near future. The contributors were Jonathan Tuckey, Piers Taylor, Clara Bagenal George, Simon Sturgis and LTS’ Director Anna Woodeson.
You can read the article here, and Anna’s contribution below:
Make sure every design has optimised massing and orientation
The days when buildings were built to resemble that napkin scribble an architect penned in his (always his) favourite restaurant should be over.
We need to work hard enough in the early weeks of the design process to ensure our buildings are also working hard enough. This is a necessarily iterative process. Is the building using more energy just because of its form? Does it have too much surface area or too much glazing? Is its thermal envelope easy to map and therefore to detail? Is its orientation optimised to ensure it is taking advantage of solar gain in winter but eliminating it in summer? All incredibly basic principles but in getting the massing and orientation right early, we pave the way for the possibility of net-zero buildings.
Software is developing to help us carry out more responsive analysis of the energy demand of our early models, but we find it is hard to beat the involvement of a proactive building physics engineer.
So this is not just about the rigour with which we approach our early design work but also about who we work with and how we procure buildings.
The architectural competition process, for example, often forces a building design in weeks, without the support of a wider design team. This does little to support the collaborative process required to develop a very low-energy building. Perhaps instead we should be judged on our proposed approach to a commission.