Environmental design strategies

Perhaps counterintuitively, one of our most important roles as mechanical and electrical engineers is to reduce the need for mechanical and electrical systems. We achieve this through stakeholder consultation to thoroughly interrogate the brief, and through close collaboration with the wider design team to prioritise ‘passive’ approaches to heating, cooling, ventilating, and lighting buildings; keeping artificial interventions to the absolute minimum.

Aerial shot of Ravelin sports centre roof, showing solar panels and rooflights.

About environmental design

We work closely with architects to develop options for building form, fabric and façade that will maximise the opportunity for passive conditioning, using controlled daylight and natural ventilation. Thinking critically about the role mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP) systems play in the wider ecosystem of a building, our holistic environmental strategies reduce the need for large, high-powered ‘active’ MEP systems and prioritise instead solutions that seamlessly integrate with, and indeed serve, the architecture. The result is higher comfort, higher wellbeing, lower embodied carbon, lower operational carbon, lower energy, and lower cost. 

Underpinning many of these deceptively simple strategies – especially those for complex or specialised buildings such as archives, museums, and galleries – is our in-house expertise in building physics, microclimates, airflow, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). We use our comprehensive understanding of building physics to establish targets for building thermal performance, glazing areas, orientation, and the placement and control of natural ventilation, and use CFD to predict the movement of air, enhancing human comfort in large spaces. Sometimes something as simple as opening a window to naturally cool and ventilate a building requires a lot of beautiful engineering behind the scenes. 

Case studies

All services