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Design for Sustainable Architecture and Environment

A University of Lincoln sustainability expert is steering efforts by the construction industry to reduce the environmental impact of buildings through the creation of new design tools and award-winning sustainable architecture.

It is widely recognised within the construction industry that conventional approaches to planning and traditional procurement methods can exacerbate environmental problems, often leading to negative social and economic consequences. 

Roughly half of all carbon emissions in the UK come from the use of buildings, and the construction process itself is one of the most energy-intensive of all manufacturing sectors. Reducing that environmental impact is a priority for government and industry. More emphasis is being placed by researchers and architects on identifying the most appropriate building systems for low-carbon construction.

Professor Behzad Sodagar, Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Director of the Centre for Architectural Research at the University of Lincoln, is leading this emerging field of sustainable design, researching autonomous eco-building systems and techniques for widespread implementation across the sector.

Professor Sodagar has almost 30 years of research experience in this area. In 2005, Lincoln School of Architecture initiated a pioneering Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Hill Holt Wood Social Enterprise, funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. The partnership resulted in an award-winning research and design programme and a building recognised as one of the finest examples of sustainable architecture in the UK.

Professor Sodagar’s involvement with the social enterprise grew from an initial challenge set for his undergraduate students to design a fully fledged consortium built on a shared social vision. The Woodland Community Hall at Hill Holt Wood embraces low-energy design principles and has received a string of national accolades, including a Lord Stafford Award for Innovation in Environmental Sustainability and a Green Apple for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage Champion of Champions Award.

Throughout its construction, the team made the conscious decision to work alongside mainstream construction companies and local government bodies as part of a wider strategy to raise public awareness.

Professor Sodagar’s ongoing research focuses on reducing the environmental impact of sustainable buildings, while ensuring they are not side-lined as a highly specialised subset of construction.

"What we demonstrated is that we could build differently. We do not need to follow common practice. We can design buildings which are comfortable, which are sustainable, people love to work and live in them, and they would have the miminum impact on the environment."

Professor Sodagar was one of the founders of the Construction Emissions Community of Practice, a voluntary and inclusive group of consultants and academics working on developing the protocols for calculating and understanding the carbon footprint of buildings. The work of the group won a Royal Institute of British Architects award in 2008.

Alongside his colleagues, he is currently devising new methodologies and design tools to accurately predict the environmental performance of buildings. Crucially, these advances are enabling developers to calculate the carbon emission costs of buildings across their full life cycle, before the first brick has even been laid.

Professor Sodagar is also involved in various projects with housing providers and developers keen to enhance their own environmental performance.