The Centre for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment is a joint venture between the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff University. The BRE and WSA are both recognised as centres of excellence for research in the built environment and have both been contributing to the body of knowledge about sustainability in the built environment for many years. This Centre brings the two organisations closer together and creates a focus for continued collaboration to promote sustainable design in Wales, the UK and internationally.
Current projects include: the development of a low carbon 'early' design tool, the Climate-Lite energy model (£160,000); and (with DRU) Modern Methods of Construction (£450,000), a Design Guide for Sustainable Housing in National Parks in Wales (£80,000), and Developing Knowledge Exchange Mechanisms to support Welsh Low-carbon Housing (£50,000). The Centre also receives PhD studentships through BRE Trust.
The Centre is developing research in three key areas of sustainable design:
The Centre will develop research projects within the above themes, ranging from technical studies of building materials through to social studies of energy services, but will also serve as an integrator for results from these projects and others within the Welsh School of Architecture. We are critically aware of the need for more holistic research paradigms than can combine multiple viewpoints to develop more sustainable solutions to the challenges within the built environment. Our research places assesses the sustainability of materials, components, systems and buildings within the context of their proposed application. This is intended to avoid, for example, the problems of 'green sprawl' which can be seen in many European cities, where citizens are moving out of the city centre to energy efficient -- but often larger -- houses in the suburbs and then commuting to work in the centre. This underlines the need for the contextual and integrated thinking which is a hallmark of the Centre's approach.