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Advocating for zero carbon design in Building Services

Sustainability By Chloe Rosenthal, Senior Engineer, Public Health – 21 March 2022

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Chloe Rosenthal

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I have been interested in learning about sustainable principles since my school and university days which led me to focus on sustainability related units at university and to choose a sustainability based final year thesis topic. My thesis, Application of 6R principles in sustainable supply chain design of Western Australian White Goods, assessed and calculated embodied and operational carbon of household white goods. Little did I know at the time that similar Life Cycle Assessment calculations and principles used in my thesis would come to be relevant in my professional career as a building services engineer.

To me zero carbon design means providing a design that meets local standards and provides a comfortable experience for users while keeping embodied and operational carbon related figures to a minimum. I believe this will be an ever-evolving design process that won’t be ‘solved’ by 2030 – it will require all designers to stay at the forefront of new technologies and to challenge typical design strategies so that related carbon emissions are constantly minimising. Embodied and operational carbon emission targets set for 2030 will be a major milestone in the continuing carbon emission minimisation.

The Cundall Zero Carbon Design 2030 process is kicking this investigation and learning off by encouraging everyone in the company to consider sustainable design measures in all design decisions made. In the past design decisions were primarily made based on local relevant design standards and costs, now, zero carbon design principles will need to be considered in equal measure. By having zero carbon at the forefront of everyone’s minds this new way of thinking sets the path to reach the Zero30 goals and beyond. Along with this new zero carbon design focused way of thinking even stronger collaboration and information sharing at an internal Cundall company-wide level and at an external industry level will be required so that we can grow closer to the goal of zero carbon design on all our projects by 2030.

The Cundall Public Health team is assembled differently to the other building services teams in that we work share globally across the UK and EU offices. These strong existing ties have allowed us to link in the Zero30 collaboration relatively seamlessly into our global public health agenda with strong attendance and involvement from the team. As a group, the public health advocates meet once a fortnight with the group not only including advocates from the UK but from Spain and Bucharest. In this smaller public health advocate group, we plan and discuss strategies to bring to the wider public health team with the goal of promoting zero carbon design discussions. The advocate members from Spain and Bucharest are then able to feedback progress and ideas to their local building service teams.

Having a public health group situated across different regions benefits our zero carbon design investigations by having varied design and construction experiences to input in discussions. Different regions have different standard ways of designing and different currently used sustainability measures to compare with. As a global public health group these sessions aim to keep the different regions on the same page with zero carbon design measures and investigations, keeping with the One Cundall business values.

Chloe Rosenthal is an Advocate for Zero Carbon Design 2030 based in London.

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