Built Environment students work on industry Zero Carbon Project

Built Environment Students took part in the ‘Zero Carbon Project’, a two-week live challenge with BAM Construction to design a replacement facility for the The Avoncroft Museum's tea room in Bromsgrove. Students worked in teams to find innovative solutions to reduce the buildings overall carbon footprint, ensuring the all-new welcome centre will be completely carbon neutral.

Graphic of C02 spelled out in trees

We caught up with first-year BSc (Hons) Building Surveying student, Pooja Ivvala, and BSc (Hons) Construction Management student, Surinder Sagoo on their experiences of the project.

What was your role in the Zero Carbon Project?

Surinder – “I had to design a replacement facility in accordance with a client brief. Whilst designing the building, I had the challenge of finding innovative solutions to reduce the building's carbon footprint, while also meeting the client's requirements.

The project lasted over a two week period during the Easter holidays and during that time I had various lectures on different topics such as building services, planning, design, and project management.

At the end of the two week period, I had to produce a detail plan, elevation, and section views of my designs, presenting them to industry professionals via Microsoft Teams.”

Pooja – “I teamed up with two amazing Architectural Technology students, Benjamin Reid-Bey and Corey Marshall. We attended daily lectures on various topics, which were delivered by Phil Eves with the help of some amazing guests.

We were tasked with sourcing various zero-carbon materials that would be used to construct the building, including its manufacturers and costs.We also had to make sure that all the manufacturers were local, to achieve BREEAM outstanding, which was one of the conditions of the challenge.

Also, we were asked to come up with ideas: for the building to generate its own income and energy, to double the floor area of the building, to improve its security, and we were given a timeframe of 16 weeks. At the end of this challenge, we presented our plan of the building, which was a 3D Revit model, with our material choices, its local manufacturers, explaining the reasons behind our choices and the overall cost and time of the project."

What did you learn from the project?

Surinder – "I learned about new innovations and technologies that can be incorporated into the construction industry in the future. The result of these ideas and processes will create a more environmental and sustainable construction model in the future."

Pooja - "I learnt a lot about sustainable and eco-friendly construction. Through our research, I came across a lot of materials and construction methods that I never even knew existed. Also, the guest lectures were really insightful and gave us a taste of the industry."

Zoom screenshot of students from Zero Carbon Project

How has this project made a difference?

Surinder – "It has made me more aware of the importance of carbon reduction. As a society we need to focus on going about our daily lives in a more environmentally conscious way, and to live more sustainably to protect what we currently take for granted. Doing a project like this shows how carbon reduction is not just a far-fetched idea but something that can be incorporated in the construction industry in a practical way."

Pooja - "This project inspired me to learn more about zero carbon and I started considering sustainability as the main topic for my future studies. Additionally, it made me realise how the decisions we make impact our planet and how a few simple steps and choices can help minimise our carbon footprint. I hope that this project inspires other builders and companies to go zero carbon in their future projects, which could lower our carbon footprint and bring us closer to our country's 2050 net-zero carbon plan."

How will this project benefit your degree?

Surinder - "The innovations and new technology I learned on this project will compliment and inform my current and future modules. For example, I am currently studying a module dedicated to construction innovation and did notice that the information that I learnt through the Zero Carbon Project went hand in hand with the module content."

Pooja - "This project has benefited my university experience because of the amazing friends and connections I made through it. Also it's informed my thinking and I feel as though future decisions will be shaped by this project. This project has encouraged me to take part in more projects/experiences like this in the future."

What advice would you give to future students about getting involved in projects like this?

Surinder - "Get involved with every opportunity you can, whether it is paid or voluntary. The benefits will be well worth it in the future if you commit to extra-curricular activities now. Experiences like this will look great on your CV too and will make you stand out from the crowd."

Pooja - "The advice I would give to future students taking part in challenges like this is to make the most out of it. I know that sometimes it can be really hard to make time for these challenges, but it is really worth it. I would also suggest you apply for any and every opportunity available. You have nothing to lose, but if you are successful, you gain immense experience and knowledge through these projects. Also, it looks really good on your CV!"

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