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 06-08 March 2018 / ExCeL, London


Thursday 14 July
We need to go further. The way we live is evolving. Boundaries are blurring faster than ever – between work and play, between performance and sustainability, between design and function. This is why we need to go further than carbon reduction and energy efficiency when designing sustainable buildings. Buildings should improve comfort, health and wellbeing, minimise the consumption of natural resources, reduce environmental impact and be cost-effective to run. This sounds like a tall order, but the rise of digital technology in recent years, in particular the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM), will lead to greater efficiencies across the supply chain, in terms of both the environment and cost. Digital technology Digital technology can play a key part in sustainable building. This is why, in spite of the recent introduction of BIM Level 2 across all public sector projects, the industry should be looking ahead. BIM Level 3, or Digital Built Britain, has the potential to create real learning, informing future design and planning, as well as making building life cycle analysis and whole life costing models much more accurate and valuable. A more detailed and extensive data exchange process will not only benefit individual projects, but will also provide information to help build the sustainable ‘Smart Cities’ of the future. When we talk about BIM, the tendency is to focus on the technology rather than the outcomes and it is easy to forget that, as well as cost efficiency and carbon reduction, one of the goals of BIM adoption is to encourage the innovation which will be vital in driving sustainability in construction. Innovation In the long run, innovation will help to increase efficiencies during the construction process as well as drive down costs. This is why we invest heavily in R&D at Saint-Gobain, as we believe that the adoption of sustainable building depends on the widespread availability of sustainable, innovative and affordable building materials. In fact, one in five of our own products that exist today did not exist five years ago. Manufacturers of innovative materials are also starting to take note of the additional benefits that sustainable buildings can provide. Until recently, measuring health and wellbeing in buildings has been subjective, but through research, such as the UKGBC’s ‘Health and Wellbeing in Homes’ report, we can see that consumers are becoming more aware of the impact their surrounding environments have on them. Consumer awareness In fact, Saint-Gobain’s Consumer Attitudes survey, which forms part of the UKGBC’s report, found that 90% of people would like a home that does not compromise their health and wellbeing. There is now a strong relationship between a building’s design and occupant health, and although these benefits are not restricted to ‘green’ buildings, there is evidence suggesting a strong connection between the two. It’s encouraging to see awareness increase, as demand will drive the sustainability agenda in construction. After all, most of us spend a large portion of our time indoors, either at work, school or at home, and buildings should therefore be designed to optimise our daily activities, whether that be raising a family, working in an office or learning at school. Creating comfortable conditions is crucial for people’s happiness and productivity, alongside environments that are efficient and cost effective to run. Buildings should give people a comfortable, long-lasting and healthy habitat in which to be successful. We need to look further and evaluate buildings beyond energy use, and create whole systems that take into account each individual element contributing to comfort. For example, some new builds reduce the size of windows to increase thermal efficiency. Although homeowners may feel financial benefit from lower energy bills, research suggests that natural light can increase productivity, as well as improve sleep duration and quality. A holistic approach A holistic approach to building is therefore the most effective way to ensure buildings are sustainable, as well as beneficial to occupant health and wellbeing. It’s also important to use materials that meet environmental credentials, but not at the expense of poor operational design. Sustainability means more than energy efficiency. The future built environment should benefit the health and wellbeing of occupants, creating a happy, healthy environment for the next generation and beyond. Blog article by Richard Halderthay, Director of Communications at Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland. Twitter @SaintGobainUK
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