Does building sustainably mean more than just reducing emissions?

by Peter Barker | August 13, 2021 |  3 min read

Digital Climate podcast with Claire Bowles
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During the past few weeks I have been recording the new BIM Academy podcast series, which has been exploring how digital can help combat the global climate emergency.

The drive towards sustainable buildings is significantly growing and this can be attributed to a number of key factors which are having a huge impact on the AEC industry, particularly over growing concerns for about climate change and wastage of energy and resources.

The application of BIM to construction projects has the ability to enhance the quality of information to inform critical design decisions regarding a building’s environmental impact and performance in use.

However, the generation and utilisation of such information has yet to be exploited to its full potential given that in many instances there is still a disconnect between BIM methodologies, sustainable design practices and traditional project workflows.

In the second episode in the series, I spoke to Melbourne based Claire Bowles, Associate and Regenerative Development Lead at i2C Architects, and I asked Claire in her your experience as a sustainability champion, how can we better implement the use of digital design tools in the construction process to combat climate change.

Claire told me the resources we have in our digital toolbelt are great but only come into play once we have the will and spirit from government and industry, with better forms of procurement to force collaboration. Top down influence from government is essential for moving forward, mandating forms of procurement for sustainable building processes and materials will encourage and reward collaborative behaviours.

Another interesting point Claire made is that we should consider all aspects of sustainability, not just zero carbon, taking biodiversity for example and learn lessons from projects which reconnect people with the natural world and their local communities.

Following on from this point, Claire continued that re-localisation and use of more local materials and supply chain is an important aspiration but needs to be balanced with the increasing industrialisation of construction processes such as those inherent in modern methods of construction (MMC).

I asked Claire what do we need to focus on? Where are the quick wins? Claire replied we should guard against a mindset which relies only on offsetting and look to future prospects of a low carbon energy supply infrastructure. We shouldn’t just focus on energy efficiency, there are other areas we need address such as health and wellbeing, there are very important to the future of the digital landscape of our existing and new assets and how we use them.

You can listen to the full interview with Claire and myself on our podcast page and if you have any comments on what you think we should be focusing on as an industry on how to combat climate change, we want to hear from you. Contact us at [email protected].

Digital Climate Podcast Episode #2 with Claire Bowles

Peter Barker

Podcast Host:
Peter Barker, Managing Director, BIM Academy

Claire Bowles

BIM Academy Guest and Sustainability Champion:
Claire Bowles, Associate and Regenerative Development Lead at i2C Architects