Integral Engineering Design are embracing the challenges of the climate and biodiversity emergency by signing up to the objectives in the Structural Engineers Declare initiative. It is essential that we respond and question what we can do in order to move towards a lower carbon society. Engineers need to think of materials as precious commodities and use them sparingly to reduce carbon. Within the practice we have set up a task force to address the declare objectives and have set ourselves targets to reduce our carbon in the year ahead.
Reducing environmental impact is a key driver for the whole team and is core to our businesses in how we go about our design work and in how we function. All of our staff care about the environment and sustainable design and we hold ISO 14001 for our environmental management systems.
Our approach to good sustainable design is to ensure the integration of all disciplines and that as a team we fully understand the environmental objectives of a project. We embrace the aspirations of the Passivhaus approach to design in order to reduce energy usage and have experience of designing to this standard on both the St Michael’s Hospice and Coed Y Brenin Visitor Centre projects. Passivhaus design results in a more rigorous design approach to insulation, thermal bridging, air tightness, natural light, ventilation, heat recovery and thermal mass.
Integral have experience in designing to other operational carbon assessment methods such as BREEAM and DEC A or A*. However, as operational energy reduces, embodied carbon becomes the next challenge. Embodied carbon is carbon produced during the manufacture of materials, their transport and assembly on site, maintenance and disposal and it is important that the whole carbon life cycle of a project is considered. As structural engineers, the materials we specify can greatly influence the embodied carbon, the structure of a building accounting for up to 50%. The recent embodied carbon industry task force recommended that embodied carbon assessments are incorporated into the Building Regulations. Within Integral we have developed processes for the measurement of embodied carbon and we can use this data to make informed design decisions for our clients.
Photograph: Hayesfield School students making a straw-bale ModCell panel at a flying factory near Bath for the STEM Centre, Nucleus project