Sustainable design, Built Environment Matters podcast with Bryden Wood Head of Sustainability, Helen Hough

Welcome to this episode of the Built Environment Matters podcast, hosted by Jaimie Johnston MBE, Bryden Wood's Head of Global Systems. In this episode, Jaimie is joined by Helen Hough, Head of Sustainability and Building Physics at Bryden Wood.

Together, they explore the evolving landscape of sustainable building design, discussing how the integration of building physics and sustainability can dramatically reduce environmental impacts from the initial design stages through to construction and operation.

This episode also tackles the pertinent issue of designing buildings in the post-COVID era, focusing on ventilation, air quality, and the balance between energy efficiency and occupant health. Moreover, Jaimie and Helen explore the critical role of embodied carbon in sustainable architecture and the innovative technologies that are shaping the future of the built environment. Learn about the strategies that are not only advancing sustainable design but are also setting new standards for the industry.

Click the 'play button' above to listen in, or read our 5 Key Takeaways from this episode below...

1. Integration of sustainability and building physics:

Helen Hough emphasises the integration of sustainability and building physics in architectural and engineering projects. The goal is to design buildings that reduce environmental impacts from the early design stages through construction and operation, enhancing both sustainability and building performance.

2. Adapting building design for COVID and beyond:

The podcast discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced building design, particularly around ventilation and air quality. There is a focus on balancing increased ventilation, which is necessary for reducing virus transmission, with energy efficiency. This involves considering both active and passive design strategies to optimise building health without compromising sustainability.

3. Emphasis on embodied carbon:

A significant portion of the discussion centres on the importance of reducing embodied carbon—the carbon footprint associated with materials and construction processes. As operational carbon (carbon used during the building's life) decreases due to better technology and design practices, embodied carbon becomes a larger proportion of a building's overall carbon footprint.

4. Innovative use of technology in sustainable design:

Advances in technology, such as more sophisticated computer modelling and data analytics, play a crucial role in sustainable building design. These tools help in simulating and optimising building performance, which can lead to better decision-making in the design phase, reducing both operational and embodied carbon.

5. Future-proofing buildings through platforms and standardisation:

The concept of using platform-based approaches and standardisation, such as the kit-of-parts system discussed, is highlighted as a way to reduce embodied carbon and simplify the calculation and management of sustainable design elements. This approach not only allows for precision in design but also facilitates the reuse and repurposing of building components, contributing to a circular economy in the construction sector.

These takeaways reflect the comprehensive approach to sustainable design discussed in the podcast, emphasising the need for holistic and integrated strategies to improve the sustainability of the built environment.