About Designs for Nature

Designs for Nature - closing the performance gaps in buildings based on integrated circular economy principles.

Other Consultant
United Kingdom

Yes, emissions from buildings are woefully too high and building performance in this respect urgently needs to be addressed. But it is not just energy and the proxy ‘carbon’ emissions that needs addressing and certainly not just buildings in operation. Lifetime considerations of all related building performance issues and emissions are essential if the totally of real performance gaps in building performance are to be solved including their impacts, especially unacceptable emissions. You can’t solve one performance gap without holistically considering all! That means better design with better sourcing of materials, through operation, maintenance and end-of life disposal/deconstruction – i.e., full life-cycle consideration of building performance. Otherwise the narrow focus on just ‘carbon’ emissions from cradle to gate and/or buildings in use will mask the true UK and Global emissions levels. Importantly, national emissions do not impact just locally but also globally and vice versa as does the sourcing of materials and products. In seeking a solution, building owners/occupants need to understand what are the best ways to design, drive and dispose of buildings.

The solution to the world’s poor building performance is to address the life-cycle (cradle to cradle) issues in terms of three key areas/gaps, namely:

  1. Affordability – lifetime costs. In other words, minimal degradation of the building requiring expensive upgrades/product replacements and maintenance. This includes operating costs with a need to avoid the uncertainties of energy security and cost increases.
  2. Performance – comfort, energy efficiency and health across the spectrum of air quality, light levels and ambience. Plus, the additional consideration of Design for Deconstruction and costs at (1) above.
  3. Environmental impacts – resource depletion and climate change impacting practices and product specifying. Adhering to circular economy principles and mitigating the impacts of these and on the environment from (1) & (2) above.

In achieving this grand strategy approach requires:

  1. Seeing buildings as future materials for other buildings. This requires buildings that are Designed for Deconstruction along with lifetime building, product/material passports to ensure maintenance and replacements are clear to future owners. This includes design and product specifications that closes the three gaps above.
  2. In addition, all buildings need a ‘driving/maintenance’ manual linked to (A) above. For buildings in operation this necessitated an intuitive ‘dashboard’ to drive and understand a building’s performance to achieve lowest levels of impacts and costs. This is a prerequisite to changing owner/occupant behaviours and the demand for higher standards in the design and build sector,

NB. It is nonsensical, especially in the residential sector, for homes, representing the biggest investment for property owners, with a value of some 10 to 20 times to that of the average car not to have the ability to ‘drive’ a building for best performance, affordability and least environmental impacts. Just as for a car, the second hand value of a building will hold value or depreciate less in value if ‘drivers’ - owner/occupant – can understand the impact on the three gaps outlined above and takes steps to mitigate/avoid costly impacts. This should enhance the value of the building with increase retained value through better building management in a manner to create a more attractive commodity. This approach will create legal consequences for poor performers as the impacts no longer become morally ethical and sustainable for people, communities and the planet. With this approach, all buildings in time will have the means to control their impacts. In tandem the tightening of standards and regulations will be needed to drive this change.

[edit] The holistic ideas here are intended only for the purposes of the Wiki/BSRIA competition. Please refer to 'Designs for Nature Ltd' if you wish to disseminate, distribute or copy these joined-up ideas further. Thank you.