Building Design Tacking Climate change

At COP6, crucial discussions were had around the importance of buildings, design, and construction practices in tackling climate change. The final day of the conference was dedicated to Cities, Regions and Build Environment Day. While many reflected that the announcements made were rather disappointing, there were some useful points and case studies to highlight.

One noteworthy example was the presentation given by Deputy Chief Executive of South West College, Jill Cush, showcasing their newly built New Erne Campus in Northern Ireland. Cush described that the world-class campus provides an “international exemplar” of the future of sustainable construction. The sustainable construction practice she referred to was Passive House. The Erne Campus is both the largest and the first educational building to reach Passive House Premium standards worldwide. It also achieved the BREEAM Outstanding standard within the UK.

Heating savings of over £45,000 a year

Later in the presentation, Dr. Barry McCarron highlighted the juxtaposition between the performance of the new Erne Campus and the Enniskillen Campus that was there previously. Built in 1971, the Enniskillen Campus had a D-rating for energy-efficiency, used over 100,000 litres of oil per year, costing the Northern Irish taxpayer approximately £51,000 annualy. By contrast, the PHPP model for the new campus sets out a total annual heating cost of around £6,000 – a saving of almost £45,000 a year. Over 25 years, this translates to savings of over £1 million. This case study demonstrates the environmental and economic benefits of putting Net-Zero pledges into action.

COP Praise for Passive House standard

The Passive House standard was also given praise, after three passive house certified projects were included in the UK Building Council’s “exemplary sustainability projects” for the COP26 virtual pavilion. These included, firstly, The Woodside Building for Technology and Design by Grimshaw Architects for Melbourne’s Monarsh University Campus. Secondly, the University of East Anglia’s Enterprise Centre in Norwitch by Archetype, which achieved Passivhaus certification as well as the BREEAM Outstanding standard. Thirdly, the 5 Systems Programme in Auckland, led by New Zealands Urban Development Authority to build five apartment blocks to Passivhaus certification.

Moving from a global scale to a UK context, the UK Passivhaus conference is coming up on the 25th of November and the 2nd of December. Following discussions at COP26, the online conference aims to outline ways in which net-zero pledges can realistically be put into action.

Rheanna Hopkins

Clifford Design