Low Carbon Design Project

Architects face a new challenge at the beginning of the twenty-first century: how to ensure that the new buildings they design and the existing buildings they refurbish emit dramatically less carbon dioxide than has been common practice in recent decades. Low carbon buildings are designed to produce significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions than others, helping to mitigate climate change.

RIBA 2009

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to energy use in buildings by understanding how and why buildings consume energy. Designers are required to set low to zero carbon targets for the design and performance of buildings by adhering to low carbon design principles. Some of the principles proposed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, 2009) include, ensuring that architects:

  • Understand energy use in the building type; designers need to understand the breakdown of energy use for the building, both by fuel type and by end use (lighting, heating, cooling, etc) in order to identify how to minimise carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Use the form and fabric of the building to do the work; where the appropriate design of form and fabric provide environmental modification and minimise energy required for services.
  • Use renewable energy systems; low carbon buildings are supplemented with renewable energy systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with the provision of heat and power in the building.
  • Manage energy within the building; appropriate energy management systems are required whilst ensuring that occupants are aware to how the building is intended to perform and how its services are to be used for efficient operation.

The built environment includes new buildings, existing buildings and the infrastructure that supports them. Both, the built environment and the infrastructure including transport, water and sewage, waste, green and blue spaces and energy supply consume massive amounts of energy. This could be reduced at all scales of the built environment from component to building to neighbourhood to city to region if planned strategically. Creating sustainable built environments enhances people’s comfort and wellbeing besides reducing harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through efficient use of resources including energy, water and waste. Sustainable built environments should be designed flexibly to adapt to future needs and growth. They should also be designed to be resilient to the momentous and rapidly evolving effects of climate change. The current sustainability agenda raises the significance of sustainable built environments in line with the targets set by the global environmental and energy agendas.

Ty Unnos

Ty Unnos Low Energy House, Design Research Unit, WSA (Design Research Unit, WSA)

The Low Carbon Design project will focus on low carbon design of the built environment. A detailed project brief will be announced to explain the project aims, objectives, phases and deliverables. For a sample of previous years’ projects go to the archives

Sky Dome

A model tested inside the sky dome, WSA

Participants will be building 3 dimensional physical models and will be testing them in the sky dome to determine the internal daylight levels in the summer and the winter, Daylight Factor, and solar penetrations to help resolve any issues identified to help optimise the design for better daylight performance.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • explore diverse approaches to holistic sustainable design by considering all aspects of sustainability; social, economic, environmental and physical;
  • identify the critical aspects required for the optimum site and infrastructure planning for good outdoor conditions;
  • explore the availability and natural energy resources of a given site; sun, light, and wind according to the climatic data;
  • investigate form and fabric of the modular unit and propose appropriate passive strategies;
  • investigate the daylighting and solar penetrations of the model developed to optimise its performance;
  • optimise the building design to ensure occupant comfort and well-being.

A word from
Dr Heba Elsharkawy,
LCASP Co-ordinator

"The aim of the lectures, seminars and field trips in LCASP is not to provide a prescription to low carbon and sustainable design, but to create a crucible of ideas that would encourage debate and generate bespoke approaches to sustainable design in the built environment. Thus, the Low Carbon Design project helped develop unique approaches to low carbon design in diverse climates and contexts with teams consisting of students from Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, China, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Tanzania. I believe it has been a valuable academic experience for both UG and PG participants."