Cathedral: sustainability research participant

St Paul’s Cathedral has been selected to participate in a pioneering sustainability survey by Deakin University. An online survey hopes to identify means to reduce carbon emissions in the building industry by fostering improved architectural design.

Lecturer in Architectural Sustainability at Deakin, Dr Astrid Roetzel, said: ‘The building sector is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. This puts significant responsibility on building professionals in the future. Our project aims to support architects in environmentally responsible decision-making as they create their designs’.

Dr Roetzel’s research will for the first time consider the significance of a building in establishing parameters for assessing a building’s energy rating: ‘Common building energy rating schemes are often applied at the end of the design process, and predominantly consider quantitatively measureable parameters’.

She explained: ‘The largest improvement potential is likely to be found in the earlier design stages. Importantly, the success and the longevity of a building also depend on the experiential quality of its occupants, as well as the building’s relevance to society’.

The project draws on the theoretical framework of Integral Sustainable Design (ISD) established by Wilber and DeKay. Roetzel said: ‘The innovation of this research lies in integrating both qualitative as well as quantitative parameter, and considering these parameters in a bottom-up rather than top-down approach’.

The Deakin project aims to evaluate the experience and understanding of nature, as communicated through the design of a building, together with its environmental performance and integration into its context and of its systems. This will be explored with several case study buildings, one of these buildings is St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Dr Roetzel expects findings of this project to be made available to architects. She hopes that advancing integral sustainable design will enable architects to identify synergies between qualitative and quantitative parameters throughout different stages of the design process, and to bridge the gap between art and science in architecture.

Readers are invited to complete the survey online. Further information about the project’s research findings can be read at Researchgate.