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From the far west to the Far East, the UK is well placed internationally to push sustainability

The UK is leading the way in integrated design, says Hattie Hartman

I have just returned from GreenBuild (USA), which was attended by 30,000 other delegates and exhibitors. Spread across three blocks in downtown San Francisco, it felt vast, but is in fact modest compared with the 57,000 at last year’s Ecobuild. This is largely because Greenbuild is a paid-for event ($600 for members, $800 for non-members) organised by the US Green Building Council.

Unsurprisingly, many seminars focused on the nitty-gritty of LEED certification, but others are more rounded, with more emphasis on healthy materials and biodiversity than the carbon focus which tends to dominate UK discussions. The UK Green Building Council’s John Alker spoke on ‘Model codes from the EU and beyond’, while Peter Clegg drew a good crowd to a fringe lecture on Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ recent higher education projects. Next November Greenbuild will move to Philadelphia, a city taking the lead on green infrastructure.

Atelier Ten’s Patrick Bellew was also at Greenbuild, signing his new book on Gardens by the Bay, the subject of this month’s Footprint feature. Ruth Slavid, who visited Singapore during the World Architecture Festival, writes about Wilkinson Eyre’s conservatories, where technical prowess is ingeniously married with architectural form. This project demonstrates what can be delivered by integrated design, particularly when landscape is the main driver.

Closing the performance gap is an issue as prevalent in the US as here. In this month’s column, Heriot-Watt’s Gary Clark tells how Soft Landings, a practical approach to building ‘aftercare’, is gaining momentum. Having been trialed on 50 buildings since its publication in 2009 by BSRIA, it is to be adopted by the government for public sector buildings and embedded in the RIBA Plan of Work.

Talking to American green building colleagues, I was struck by how the UK is leading the way in integrated design. This was further highlighted at last week’s Autodesk conference, where Paul Morrell showed the UK well-positioned internationally to push the adoption of BIM, a tool which, among other things, facilitates the measurement of embodied carbon. Morrell pointed out that measuring the embodied carbon in cars is already commonplace. It will be easy to measure in buildings, too, he said, ‘as soon as it matters enough’.

 

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