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News: 26 May 2016

Structural Sustainability –Design Team Commitment


A Presentation to HTS by Kirsten Henson, KLH Sustainability

In the wake of HTS’s growing commitment to delivering sustainable solutions Kirsten Henson, founder of KLH Sustainability, was invited to deliver an interactive presentation to the practice. The focus of the talk was to promote the benefits of working with sustainability at the heart of a project, and develop an understanding of how to specify sustainable structural solutions.

Recent legislation has largely focused on improving energy efficiency associated with operation which has driven down the carbon intensity of operation considerably, increasing the relative contribution of the embodied carbon of construction. Interestingly, when attention is focused on the construction phase of a project, structural elements account for 60-80% of the total embodied carbon. It is surely only a matter of time until legislation also begins to tackle the embodied carbon of our buildings?

The industry is taking positive steps and is increasingly proactive without the force of legislation. However, early client engagement and clearly defined targets need to be agreed from the offset to successfully deliver a sustainable outcome. Henson stresses the importance of communication within the wider design team as well as the need for each field to fully understand the impact of their respective discipline. It is essential that each member takes into account the specific effects on the structure and its associated embodied carbon.

Allowing sufficient time for a project to be value engineered can also deliver significant embodied carbon reductions. Early involvement from contractors is crucial, as information on the supply chain, methods of construction, and management of waste contribute to a significant proportion of the total embodied carbon.

HTS is currently researching a variety of methods which aim to increase the structural sustainability credentials for buildings.

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