Whole Life Carbon and Energy Performance of Sustainable Building Design

  • Supervisors: Dr Gill Menzies (Heriot-Watt University)
  • Sponsoring Companies: Arup, Max Fordham, Gardiner & Theobald LLP and Deloitte Real Estate
  • PhD Student: Sahar Mirzaie

Low energy/low emissions buildings are vital in an economy which is to thrive despite tightening emissions targets, fossil fuel depletion and a more challenging climate. In this project, the relationship between energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, building design, cost, procurement, occupant satisfaction, building performance and management will be analysed to establish the reliability of statutory and voluntary environmental rating systems and sustainable design practices in delivering low energy/low emissions, sustainable buildings. Despite the sharp and significant advances in these systems, little is known about the true energy and carbon impact of buildings over their full lifecycle.

There is a growing research community in the full life cycle assessment of buildings, including embodied, operational and decommissioning energy and carbon. There is also increased interest in rating systems and generic methodologies to improve buildings sustainability, but as yet these research interests are largely unconnected. This project aims to understand better whether sustainability rating systems for buildings actually produce low energy, low carbon buildings in practice; whether the simultaneous use of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), SL (BSRIA Soft Landings)and BIM (Building Information Modelling) lead to the optimal building design and operation for its occupants; and whether these systems are sufficient, excessive, or whether there may be a better way?

The ETP studentship will permit the in-depth analysis of three case study buildings constructed using SL and BIM, and built to BREEAM excellent or very good qualification. This will provide valuable feedback both to the academic community and to construction professionals, allowing best practice in low carbon sustainable building design to be repeated.