With the easing of the pandemic restrictions and welcome signs of normality returning in the workplace, one can sense a new marked corporate acceptance of the drive towards the low carbon economy. Notwithstanding the raft of new building regulations in the pipeline designed to reduce energy consumption and ease the role of nature to absorb excessive carbon emissions, the planning of all current and future developments has never before required so much attention to thought leadership and future proofing. The inescapable onset of climate change is bringing an emphasis onto regenerative concepts as never before. For developers and design teams it is as challenging – and exciting – as President Kennedy’s call to walk on the moon, but the stakes are far higher. 

Meanwhile on Planet Earth our world-beating scientists and engineers are devising more and better ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and tackle the national retrofitting of our vast volumes of out-dated building stock. Post pandemic new developments in the built environment are the soft targets for innovation and destined to be trial exemplars for the near future. Energy saving, reduction of CO2 emissions, modern methods of construction and the circular economy are the orders of the day. In fact, for many environmental engineers keeping up with the latest developments takes up a lot of the working day, world politics and energy shortages notwithstanding. It also helps a lot to be clairvoyant while we are in transition, such is the pace of the green agenda. In decades to come, in what might be sweltering heat, we will look back at our trials and tribulations. Hopefully by then we will be enjoying limitless nuclear fusion power and revolutionary climate-calming carbon capture technologies.

While we wait for sustainable utopia my attention is focused on some immediate overarching issues; heat pump performance, ambient loops, overheating and comfort cooling, indoor air quality and the economics of energy recovery. A recent example of the latter was a visit to Borders College, Scotland, to research an award-winning wastewater heat recovery system. It consists of a retro-fitted, low temperature 4th generation heat network driven by water-to-water heat pumps. The heat source is the town’s sewar line, an ingenious example of the road to net zero. 

Sustainability plays a key role in all our development decisions and we acknowledge the contributions of our project team members and industry friends towards saving the planet and enhancing the welfare of communities.