Environmentally-friendly building design offers market opportunity

Ensuring that the next generation of buildings in Northern Ireland are seen as world class in terms of design quality and environmental criteria was the aim of a recent seminar run by the Carbon Trust and funded by Invest Northern Ireland.

The Low Carbon Design one-day seminar attracted over 220 people from the construction industry, who heard experts speak on topics ranging from design considerations, through choosing fabrics, façade engineering, solar shading and natural ventilation.  

The Carbon Trust – with funding from Invest NI – has been running a Low Carbon Design Initiative since 2003. The initiative involves informing the industry about the economic, energy and environmental benefits of specifying high-performing, low carbon buildings; and secondly transferring knowledge and skills to construction professionals to allow them to design and deliver on an informed client’s brief.  

Olive Hill, of Invest NI’s Engineering and Business Services division, was the keynote speaker at the event. “Low carbon design is a substantial and growing market opportunity. It’s estimated that annual expenditure on carbon emissions reduction will grow by between US$10 and US$100 billion per year for the next 45 years and total $1 trillion over the first five years.

“In the UK, building standards are tightening and this provides an opportunity for companies that offer innovative products and processes which can help designers meet more stringent environmental regulations,” she said.

The Carbon Trust has developed a range of low carbon design guidance documentation and also provides project and practice-specific mentoring deploying specialists to work with design teams to deliver low carbon solutions.  

Geoff Smyth, Carbon Trust Manager for Northern Ireland, said: “We feel there are compelling resource efficiency, workspace productivity, environmental and value-for-money reasons for making a step change in the way we design and construct buildings in Northern Ireland. We look forward to working with property developers, designers and contractors to ‘design-out’ the carbon from our new generation of buildings and to ‘design-in’ the economic and environmental savings that low carbon buildings provide.”