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metamatter that matters

This week I was invited by Birmingham City Council to talk at their Sustainability Forum meeting about our experience of environmental design challenges and the 2016 zero carbon goal. Sadly, the idea that the sector might be in a position to deliver zero carbon buildings consistently 3 years from now is laughable, but the drive towards something better than what we currently have must nevertheless continue and work done by groups such as this are crucial in the face of ongoing legislative delays from the top. Rather than present slides about our projects I decided to offer some more strategic ideas that we need to keep talking about.

After a brief introduction in which I (as usual) encouraged the audience to seek out supporting texts such as Dan Hill’s ‘Dark Matter and Trojan Horses’ (see also previous post: Institutionalised), I offered the following 10 ideas over the course of 20 slides in a Pecha Kucha format. It was a refreshingly mixed audience made up of the public, contractors, manufacturers, clients and consultants so the topics were varied and I hope there was a little something for everyone. If you’re in the sector or already engaged in the debate in anyway, much of the topics below will be familiar or even obvious to you but hopefully the members of the group took away a few new ideas for discussion and an enthusiasm for alternative presentation techniques.

Of course the subtext here was simply to highlight the need to talk about the politics of low carbon building and the dark matter that swirls around it, rather than the architecture itself, which seemed even more pertinent for an event held in the heart of the city’s council building.

Strategies for sustainable building:metamatter that matters

1. narrow the performance gap

2. fabric first trade skills


3. creative tenure mixes

4. creative procurement strategies

5. energy monitoring

6. natural materials

7. lifecycle costing

8. non energy benefits

9. integrate low emissions transport

10. new build vs. old build?

Posted by on June 29, 2013.

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Categories: environment, housing, ideas, passivhaus

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My name is Rob Annable. I’m an architect, a father, a husband, a rock climber, a blogger and wannabe geek. Although not necessarily in that order. I’m a director at Axis Design Architects. We’re architects and urban designers in Birmingham, UK. We mostly make housing  and we are leaders in the field of online methods […]more →

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