Contract - October 2010 - (Page 40)
By Ross Donaldson, Woods Bagot
Two global design firms issue a call to action and lead by example
Woods Bagot and Buro Happold develop a model that delivers on the promise of zero carbon and zero emissions for large-scale development projects
For most architectural design and consulting firms today, expertise in sustainability has become an essential element for success. Woods Bagot, like many of our competitors, trains our staff in LEED and BREAM requirements, and principles of sustainable design are integrated early into every project. We’ve won our share of “green” awards—and even achieved a number of “sustainability” firsts. A year ago, it became clear to me that for Woods Bagot—and the rest of our industry—this incremental approach is radically inadequate. At the 2009 World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, I met Tom Burke, one of the world’s leading environmental policy experts, who presented the problem of climate change in starkly simple terms: To avoid a dangerous climate change tipping point of a two-degree Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature, we need a zero-carbon economy by 2050. The implications of this fact are not insignificant and include, for instance, the end of the internal combustible engine in all vehicles. The reality is that climate change is not a linear proposition; because the build-up of carbon in the atmosphere is cumulative, we cannot leave action to the last minute. And it’s not like our current economic crisis, which is stubborn but presumably will pass. With climate change, once we are there, we’ll live with the consequences.
With Zero-E, Woods Bagot utilizes “living systems” (above) that integrate building services and landscape systems, recycling water and cleaning air to achieve zero carbon and zero emissions.
responsible for what ultimately gets built across the world—and how it gets built. So it stands to reason that we also can significantly influence the outcome if we undertake such an effort.
Radical Transition: “Less Bad” to Good
To make a measurable contribution, I believe we need to dramatically alter the scale of our thinking. We must move from our current approach of doing “less bad” to doing good, from doing less damage to actually healing the environment. Within our own company, we began to ask the question: how quickly can we create a model for zero emissions architecture—and what will it take for us to achieve that goal?
Buildings: One-Third of the Problem
The strategy for achieving zero carbon is roughly distributed as follows: Buildings: Infrastructure: Energy generation: 33% 33% 33%
The Proposition: Zero-E
In partnership with global engineering consultancy Buro Happold, we invested in significant, proprietary research to create Zero-E, a model that delivers on the promise of zero carbon and zero emissions for large-scale development projects. Driven by the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, Zero-E is designed to go beyond reducing the negative impacts of new growth, to create buildings that reverse the damage to compromised ecological systems. Our model envisions off-the-grid infrastructure independence that creates more energy that it requires annually, releases cleaner air than it takes in, and processes its own waste to release beneficial output.
So, as architects and designers, we can make a major contribution to solving one-third of the climate change problem. In context of the magnitude of the issue, it could be argued that our industry currently makes little material contribution to such a task, even though we collectively have designed some exceptionally highachieving sustainable structures. Our profession is disproportionately
contract october 2010
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - October 2010
Contract - October 2010
Focus: What's Next
Focus: A New Conversation
Materials: Cork and Circumstances
Green: Net Zero
Practice: The Office That Never Closes
Splashy and Sustainable
The Art of Healthcare Design
Best Foot Forward
Harmonious and Healthy
Of Sea and Stone
Live Long and Prosper
Trends: From Illness Care to Wellness Care
Process: On the Front Line
Contract - October 2010