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Students tackle decarbonisation in new pilot program

27 September 2021

Addressing real world sustainability challenges with classroom learning.

Master of Architectural Science students from the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning collaborate with leading architecture firms to champion sustainable practice.

A new pilot program devised by Architects Declare Australia has partnered students with architecture practices to better understand the challenge of decarbonising buildings. All five students in the first stage of the pilot are from the Master of Architectural Science (Sustainable Design) at the University of Sydney.

Throughout the program, students had the opportunity to put into practice their classroom learning from DESC9014 Sustainable Construction Technology led by Dr Ozgur Gocer. This allowed architectural practices to access cutting-edge skills, tools and methods to better understand the carbon footprint of a building project and improve sustainability outcomes.

The program has allowed architectural practices, students and universities to learn how to better shape education and industry for the challenge of decarbonising buildings. The initiative also demonstrates the potential of universities as a resource for industry, allowing a direct channel for ground-breaking research to address emerging issues and challenges.

Integrating embodied carbon early

Profesional headshot of Master's student Natalia Saavedra Toro

Master's student Natalia Saavedra Toro 

Master’s student Natalia Saavedra Toro worked with Fitzpatrick + Partners during the pilot. By putting her classroom learning into practice, Natalia was able to incorporate a Life Cycle Analysis into the design stage of a large-scale commercial project. Her work supported the team’s decision-making process by providing a more thorough understanding of the building’s embodied carbon.

“Having the opportunity to network and interact with experienced architects willing to learn and work towards a more sustainable future through the application of innovative techniques to lower the embodied carbon of buildings was the highlight of this pilot,” she reflects.

"I feel optimistic that this is the future for architecture, and I feel confident that I will be able to offer this integrative sustainable approach to my current and future clients."

Demystifying the realities of decarbonisation

Master's student Ella Xuemin Zhou

Master's student Ella Xuemin Zhou 

Ella Xuemin Zhou was partnered with Turner during the program. With this experience under her belt, Ella has gained a more holistic understanding of the decarbonisation challenge, and is better prepared for complicated challenges outside of the classroom.

“In a real-world project, we need to think more carefully about the accuracy of the result. We also needed to consider the importance of efficiencies across time, energy, and budget,” she says.

“Participating in the program has helped me to understand the current situation of the industry and the future design trends.”

The collaboration with Architects Declare Australia was spearheaded by Dr Daniel Ryan, Program Director Master of Architectural Science.

“Climate change is such a pressing issue and the building industry needs to shift rapidly," he says.

"It’s great to see our students playing a leading role in this transition."

Participating students and architectural practices included:

Shilei Chen – Architectus
Camille Gaven – Scott Carver
Barbara Silva Messer – HDR
Natalia Saavedra Toro – Fitzpatrick + Partners
Ella Xuemin Zhou - Turner

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