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School of Architecture’s call for sustainable development

25 November 2008

Welsh business leaders learned about the Welsh School of Architecture’s contribution to sustainable projects around the world at a recent Cardiff University Innovation Network event.

The Head of the School, Professor Phil Jones, set the scene for the audience at the Wales Millennium Centre, explaining how sustainable design had gone from a niche market to the mainstream in the past three decades.

Professor Jones gave examples of some of the sustainable new buildings the School has worked on, such as the new EMPA building in Zurich. However, he stressed the importance of also improving the existing built environment and infrastructure.

He told his audience: "There has to be a change in the way we cost sustainable buildings. The risks are greater if you don’t have a green building these days."

Professor Jones called for a research-led development industry and added: "We have a lot of skills for delivering a more sustainable environment. The question is – can we apply them within the short timescale we have left?"

The Network then heard of the partnership work on The Pearl Island development in Qatar between the School’s Centre for Research in the Built Environment (CRiBE), and Cardiff-based company Building Energy Partnership. CRiBE commercial manager Huw Jenkins explained how the Centre had helped create a sustainable design manual for the development on such aspects as ventilation, built form, lighting, water, and the use of plants in reducing ‘heat island’ effect.

Peter Robson, founding partner in Building Energy Partnership, which won the tender to produce the manual, told the audience: "To prove the integrity and credibility of the work, we approached CRiBE to see if they would be interested in working with us. That proved to be our masterstroke."

The meeting also heard from Richard Smith of development firm Atkins, which has worked with the School on a number of projects in the middle east, including the environmentally-friendly 400m Lighthouse Tower in Dubai. (pictured).

An exhibition showing the work of the School and CRiBE together with The Design Research Unit Wales is on display at the Millennium Centre until November 30.

Cardiff University Innovation Network is one of the most established and popular business networking events in Wales.It is recognised by many businesses and those in the public sector as an important introduction to the University’s problem-solving and knowledge-based resource provision.