#33 Active Building Protocol

This week I have been reviewing all my interactions with the construction industry since starting my project in April 2017. There were 2 reasons for this – firstly to start populating the 4 strands of my Active Building Protocol; and secondly for the Reflective Essay that will form part of my final submission.

When logging the work I have been involved with since April 2017, under the “Engagement” strand, I was surprised to realise that there have been at least 40 articles published in construction industry journals about Active Buildings and our building demonstrators, some of which I have authored, and some of which I have been interviewed for; including one in the RIBA Journal earlier this year.  The Active Classroom and the Active Office have won 7 construction industry awards – contributing greatly to our reputation and credibility within the industry.  I have presented my work on the Active Building demonstrators at least 75 times to construction industry groups, either whilst giving a tour of the demonstrators or during events and conferences.  Some examples include presenting at the Good Homes Alliance conference held in London in November 2019; presenting to groups of engineers at Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) events (CIBSE Build 2 Perform conference in London, and to the regional CIBSE YEN group at the Active Classroom), and a Women in Engineering Society (WES) event held at the Active Classroom, amongst many others.  Visitors to our demonstrator buildings range from school children to government officials and ministers, with lots of other interested parties between.

In terms of “Training”, I have carried out 25 events with students, ranging from housing projects with first year architecture students (as discussed previously, most recently in Blog #30), to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) events with primary school children, and taking part in mock interviews for secondary school pupils.  For my own training – or continuous professional development (CPD) – I have clocked up 175 hours through a variety of different ways – from a course on Nvivo data analysis software and short courses on Passivhaus and Net Zero Carbon buildings, to various informal CPD seminars.  I have also started developing course material for an Active Building training course to be run by one of our sister projects, the METaL project.

Under the “Knowledge” strand, I was pleased to contribute to a report on future energy storage solutions to be included in the next version of the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for dwellings, which one of my colleagues has just authored.   She led the SAP Industry Forum group for energy storage, to which I provided information on electrical and thermal energy storage solutions, using information from my Active Building Design Guide.  The CPD sessions I have carried out (10 so far) also contribute to knowledge sharing or knowledge transfer (although these could also fall under the “Engagement” and “Training” strands).  I am developing detailed case studies of our Active Buildings, relating them to the RIBA Work Stages, detailing my considerations at each of the stages.  One participant in my study suggested that this is all that is needed, alongside a checklist – something I am contemplating, based on feedback on my design guide to date, which leads me to the conclusion that it currently contains too much information!

Also, in terms of knowledge transfer, I am currently working with several organisations to contribute to their own building performance standards or specifications.

And, I am currently working alongside a design team for a tender bid submission for a project, where (if the bid is successful) I will be able to test my developing design guidance on a live project and ascertain how much additional information a ‘normal’ design team would need and what information would be really useful to them. I think this falls under the “Knowledge” strand and is an ideal way to test my work in a real situation.

The importance and relevance of my project in the current climate, is demonstrated by the interest in my work – from the initial 228 people who signed up for my recent webinar and numerous requests to run it again; to those asking me to work with them on specific projects or on developing the standards they will be setting for building designs of the future.  This highlights the desire from the construction industry to find viable Net Zero solutions for our built environment.

The “Compliance” strand is less developed, although I have been involved in early discussions with bodies to determine the process of developing an Active Building Standard; and a possible addition to one of the well-established environmental assessment methods used by the industry. It is too early to take these discussions further at the moment but, I anticipate once the design guide is ready for publication and, as we gather more evidence from our buildings, we will be able to develop this strand in time.

So, the first three strands of my protocol are quite well advanced. My next task is to bring these together into a step-by-step guide. I also plan to focus on developing a series of checklists for different disciplines and different project stages, using our case study Active Buildings as examples, and, from those, determine additional information needed.

Published by jorclarke

I am an Architect, currently working at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University, and studying for a Doctorate in Sustainable Built Environment (D.SBE), which is focused on developing an Active Building Design Guide.

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