Investigating and Developing Tools to Enable Adoption of the Active Building Concept for Low-Energy, Low-Carbon Buildings
thesisposted on 13.01.2022, 10:45 by Joanna Clarke
This Professional Doctorate in Sustainable Built Environment (DSBE) research project is based on the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) need to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions from buildings.
The aim of this project is to investigate and develop methods to enable adoption of the Active Building (AB) concept for UK building projects through enabling a change to organisational practice (SPECIFIC and the Active Building Centre). The AB concept offers a practical solution to reducing the energy use and carbon emissions of buildings, helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets and consequently helping to combat the global problem of climate change.
Prior to commencing this Main Study, an AB Protocol was developed to capture proposed enablers based on research undertaken in earlier modules of this DSBE. This Main Study
focuses on developing one of the enablers identified - an AB Toolkit - to provide a knowledge base and design guidance to aid the design of ABs. This consists of a suite of documents providing a knowledge base that includes a clear definition of the AB approach, AB case studies, and a process to follow to design and deliver AB projects, aligned with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work 2020, adhered to by architectural design professionals in the UK.
The AB Toolkit has been tested, evaluated, and refined throughout the project by engaging with architectural designers, and using data collected from focus groups (FGs), a questionnaire and webinars in an iterative process of data collection, analysis and refinement. Other enablers to the utilisation of the AB concept proposed within the AB
Protocol were validated and added to using the data collected within this study. These were used to form an AB Roadmap for SPECIFIC and the Active Building Centre (ABC) to follow in their future work programmes.
The author is an architect currently employed as a Design Manager at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), Swansea University, where her main role is to support organisations, to develop AB projects.
In 2018, the Active Building Centre (ABC), funded through the UK Government’s Transforming Construction Challenge (TCC), was established to develop tools to enable widespread adoption of the AB concept. Thus, the work described in this Main Study contributes to the organisational practice of both SPECIFIC and the ABC.
The main benefit of this research project is the development of a structured approach to enable architectural designers and other built-environment professionals to adopt the AB concept, supporting the aims of both SPECIFIC and the ABC. The methods of data collection developed by the author could be beneficial to other researchers. These comprise FGs that combine data collection with knowledge dissemination to contribute to architectural designers’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training; and mass webinars as a means of collecting data remotely while sharing knowledge, which is beneficial to enable research work to continue when face-to-face contact is not possible.
There are two main outputs from this research project. Firstly, an AB Roadmap (an evolution of the AB Protocol) that addresses challenges identified from the data and provides a focus for SPECIFIC’s and the ABC’s future priorities. Secondly, an AB Toolkit, which architectural practitioners can employ in the design and delivery of low-operational energy, low-carbon building projects. While architectural designers were the main participants for this research project, the methods developed are also relevant and applicable to other built-environment disciplines such as Building Control Surveyors and Building Services Engineers, who attended and took part in some of the webinars the author delivered.