Prof David Strong

Sustainability Conference 07

Building Design and Construction -
Time for a Radical Rethink?

“A truly depressing statement of man’s arrogance over nature”

Professor David Strong’s presentation lambastes the building of unsustainable skyscrapers, describing them as “Not smart – just plain dumb” and citing a statistic that many recent skyscrapers could have been designed in a way that would reduce their energy consumption by as much as 80%.

Professor Strong suggests learning from the past – that we have forgotten everything we ever knew about working with nature in an effective way, and that this is something we need to get back. He champions a system described as bio-mimicry, involving exploiting the natural systems available for free to provide ventilation, cooling, heating and daylighting and calls for greater care when designing climate adaptive buildings.

The presentation also emphasises the need for integrating design, drawing attention to the truism that all the really important mistakes are made on the first day of the design process. Talking through the principles of sustainable design, David warns against the seeking of magic bullet solutions and states that the only way to ensure a sustainable solution will be effective is through independent assessments relating to whole life performance.

According to Mr Strong, the future of building design lies with passive renewable systems, and he stresses the need for diligence in implementing it. He also states that it is the architect’s responsibility to bring their customers to task on air conditioning, that it is often not necessary and that even when it is, there are still considerations relating to size, cost and complexity that can reduce its carbon footprint.

Ending the presentation with a series of case studies involving buildings that are or simply claim to be shining examples of sustainable design, Professor Strong underlines the desperate need for independent objective research to determine what works and what does not work and calls for an end to ‘architectural greenwash’.

Click on the link on the left of this page to view a copy of this presentation.