The Ecological Built Environment theme within WIRAD undertakes research and enterprise (EBERE) that is centred on the creation and preservation of the Built Environment from an ecological perspective, which adopts a holistic approach to achieve this at the micro level for shelter and up to the macro level for communities and beyond.
A number of staff from the Architectural department are active in this theme, investigating how design and construction techniques, strategies and applications can take an approach which has low impact on planetary resources and takes an harmonious approach to society in order to enhance how people use and experience the built environment in their lives, their work and for their leisure.
Ecological Dwelling Design, Development and Evaluation
The work in this area focuses on advising clients on the sustainable design and construction of dwellings from an ecological perspective. This area also looks at post construction evaluation of the thermal performance and occupancy attitudes towards dwellings. Staff in this area currently work with Building Design Partnership’s Bristol studio, Coastal Housing Group, United Welsh Housing Association, and the Welsh Housing consortia Integrate. Current projects include:
Work on assessment of the code for sustainable homes (CfSH) for two apartment projects to meet level 3 and level 4 respectively in Swansea, in collaboration with BDP;
An audit of Integrate’s five projects funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s 2008 pilot scheme to investigate barriers to market for dwellings meeting level 4 and level 5 of the CfSH in Wales;
Post occupancy thermal performance monitoring and assessing occupancy attitudes to the dwellings as part of a recently completed scheme in Bargoed. This project is currently investigating research funding tied in with other monitoring projects within EBERE.
Evaluating the design and construction process from a buildability and maintainability from the use of hempcrete for dwellings, in collaboration with Coastal Housing Group;
Evaluating and assessing design templates for level 3, 4 and 5 dwellings for UWHA in collaboration the Cardiff Studio for Stride Treglown. This project is part of a bid to secure funding for a mini-KTP; The latter two projects will be presented at DDiA8 which is being hosted at UWIC on the 4th September. Proposed projects within this area include investigating the viability of the ‘PassivHaus’ construction standard for residential buildings in Wales.
Sustainable Urban Regeneration
The work in this area focuses on investigating the issues arising from sustainable urban regeneration. Staff work in this area is currently funded by the EPSRC for the SURegen project and are working with the University of Salford in collaboration with Liverpool, Napier, Dundee and Manchester Universities. The aims of the project are to investigate the complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity of the regeneration process and its outcomes.
Support for all engaged in regeneration will be provided through a web based application. This application, or set of integrated decision support tools in the form of a Regeneration Workbench, will help professionals working in the field to make critical decisions, and help those who are new to the field acquire the skills needed to meet the challenges. The development of the Workbench will be guided by good practice from past and current regeneration projects in the Northwest of England and South Wales. A feature of the project is the collaboration between the research team and a wide range of industrial and local authority partners.
UWIC’s contribution is to look at residential led regeneration projects, which includes analysing two such schemes in Swansea currently at the early planning stages by Coastal Housing Group. In addition, UWIC is currently investigating collaborating with Professor Pearl on a similar project in Montreal Canada, which is being led by the University in Montreal. Visit SURegen for more details.
Ecological Non-Dwelling Design, Development and Evaluation
Staff work in this area focuses on advising clients on sustainable design and construction of non-domestic buildings from an ecological perspective. Forthcoming projects include:
Developing a brief for a proposed sustainable interpretation centre for the national botanic garden of Wales. This project is in collaboration with the Cardiff School of Management at UWIC and is due to commence in two phases: summer of 2009 and 2010 and is funded by the KTP.
A book entitled ‘Green Buildings That work’, Blackwell Publishing; to be published the end of 2011.
Investigating the attitudes of Building Control Surveyors in the use of ecological building practices for low and zero carbon buildings.
Enhancement and Maintainability of the Existing Built Environment from an Ecological Perspective
Staff work in this area focuses on advising clients on how existing buildings can be enhanced and maintained following a low impact and ecological approach. This includes advising clients on fabric, control and services improvements, in order to maximise energy efficiency, reduce the use of finite resources, maximise the use of renewable energy and up-skill the workforce in current best practice. Current projects include:
Investigating the finite resource (FR) use of the existing estate and facilities and proposing solutions to reduce the FR use for the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The work is funded by a KTP, which is due to commence in the summer of 2009.
The Atlantic College monitoring study, in collaboration with Atlantic College, south Wales and Gillard Associates. This project is monitoring the thermal performance and occupant attitudes towards two student accommodation blocks, one which has been refurbished to a notional level 4 of the CfSH and one which is in its original 1960s form at Atlantic College. The project is aimed at investigating how effective the design and renewable energy strategies have been in reducing the energy costs, increasing comfort conditions and inform the next refurbishment project (two accommodation blocks). The thermal and climatic monitoring is due to commence in April 2009 for one climatic season and is currently funded by UWIC. Further funding is being investigated for a research assistant.
Assessment of buildings during their design phase for maintainability. This desktop project is investigating how adjustments to design can reduce waste, disruption and cost at a later date for maintenance and refurbishment.
Conservation and Preservation of the Built Heritage from an Ecological Perspective
Staff work in this area focuses on methods, techniques and approaches to conserving and preserving the built heritage from an ecological perspective. Current projects include: Investigating the impact of visitor centres on sites of historic and cultural value, this desktop study is exploring the significance of the visitor centre on the Welsh historic environment in terms of an architectural and user context and it compares the intended impact with the built result.
One of the aims of the project is to review the impact of new facilities on the overall appeal of the site and consider the impact on visitor experience. In addition, from a management perspective, the research aims to consider how an organisation can use the visitor centre as a means of providing an effective service delivery for the visitor and as part of a visitor management strategy.
Tools & Techniques for an Ecological Built Environment
Staff work in this area focuses on the development of tools and techniques to assist the transition to an ecological and sustainable built environment. Current projects include:
Investigating the effectiveness of the Butler conceptual thermal analysis tool in its application in the fields of academic education and commercial practice in the UK and Canada. This study is investigating how effective the tool has been since 2001 in allowing users to take the fundamental step to integrated design processes associated with true green building design by enabling the building to be viewed as a system in and of itself without the requirement for mechanical systems to trim comfort levels. This project is in collaboration with Professor Butler of Archineers (UK and Canada), Professor Daniel Pearl, Ecole d’architecture, Université de Montreal and Simon Tucker from the graduate school for the environment, Centre for Alternative Technology.
Investigating peer group assessment of building information models using automated code checking software. For this project one of the staff members was awarded a UWIC Teaching Fellowship grant award, November 2008. It involves the use of Solibri Code Checker software which will be used by undergraduates to assess the quality of the BIM models produced by their peers. Students opinions as to the value of using such software for peer assessment will be polled. As an extension to this project, the application of code checking to UK Building Regulations will be investigated, with an aim to producing a viable automated building regulation checking system.
Tools and Techniques for the Preservation, Conservation and Enhancement of theExisting Built Environment and Built Heritage from an Ecological Perspective
Staff work in this area focuses on the development of tools and techniques to assist Preservation, Conservation and Enhancement of the Existing Built Environment and Built Heritage from an Ecological Perspective. Current projects include:
Working with St Fagans Natural History Museum to investigate the value of a three-dimensional (3D) computer based record of a heritage site in producing an accurate visual representation of the analytical recording process and the subsequent decisions that affect the fabric of the building. Decisions on how and what to record involve varying measures of subjective judgement of the relative values embodied in, or represented by, the building. In recent research it is becoming evident that some aspects of interpretation and significance of the component parts of the heritage site may be potentially assigned through pattern matching to automatically acquired 3D data.
Efficient Evaluation and Deployment of Renewable and Low Carbon Resources
Staff work in this area focuses on advising clients on the efficient evaluation and deployment of renewable and low carbon resources. Current projects include: