Sustainability R&D

Passive Design Assistant

Our role in this project involved providing an architectural input throughout the design development of an energy modelling tool, with particular emphasis on inputs, testing and evaluation and case studies. Developed in partnership with Arup and The Concrete Centre, this educative tool is freely available to all to better enable the effects and impacts of a range of passive design measures to be evaluated using a simple thermal model that can be modified to reflect a range of measures. These include:
Geometry and orientation

Construction and materials

Openings and shading

Internal loads

Thermal mass


Geographic location

Potential future climate scenarios

The Passive Design Assistant is available for download here We received match funding for our input from the Government Technology Strategy Board under the Design Decision Tools competition within the Low Impact Buildings platform.


Arezzo Passivhaus

We went beyond the brief for this waste-to-energy company HQ competition to include a masterplan for the wider operational site proposing closed loop environmental and energy cycles in order to demonstrate better solutions to environmental challenges. The proposed building was to be a timber framed Passive House, avoiding the use of concrete whilst responding carefully to existing site operations and the wider landscape. Through the reuse of demolition waste, careful site positioning and landscaping and low embodied energy materials the initial impact of the building was to be minimised and operational impacts would be very significantly reduced whilst providing an excellent internal environment.









Morelands POE

AHMM’s Morelands office has been used as a case study to explore the influence of our architecture on a number of factors. The study used mixed methods – energy and internal environment data, operational and capital costs information and a Building User Survey - to examine the relationship between productivity, investment and energy consumption in the development of the BREEAM outstanding Morelands Rooftop studios. The project involved the retrofit and upward extension of an existing brick warehouse to create a two-floor, 1600m2 open plan design studio through refurbishment of the existing heavyweight 4th floor and the addition of a lightweight 5th floor.


The study illustrates that the relative costs of the building and of utilities in particular represent a small proportion of operational outlay. The new building provides a much better – and more productive – environment for occupants and this study has identified aspects of occupant comfort that challenge existing design targets, as well as ways of improving the buildings operations for greater comfort. This ongoing project provide feedback to our facilities team to improve our operations as well as insights that can inform future design work.


Concrete Calculator

We have developed a simple calculator intended to provide vital figures on embodied energy at an early stage. The calculator is aimed at concrete frames, particularly for designs with combined new and existing retained buildings. It is a simple excel tool with simple inputs to determine the relative effects of an approach to either new or existing buildings. Structural geometry and outline specification material is entered to produce approximate energy and carbon figures based upon the latest ICE methodology. The calculator is intended to inform our architects of embodied energy levels so that sensible decisions can be made. We have used the calculator on a bid for TU Eindhoven, to estimate the embodied carbon that could be saved in an existing concrete structure and as part of a post occupancy analysis on the Angel building, looking at the relationship between operational and embodied energy.











WCF Prototype

As a largely naturally-ventilated spec-office with a focus on smart servicing, flexibility and adaptation to future uses and likely future climate, the White Collar Factory (WCF) at Old Street Yard will be a brave and bold iteration of our five-year research project for Derwent London. The prototype is a precursor and test bed to our future 16-storey tower, now on site at the epicentre of London’s Tech City on Silicon Roundabout. The full-scale working prototype designed and completed in 2013 is a 325m2 slice of a proposed floor plate and currently stands on stilts on the site as a demonstration space demonstrating to prospective occupiers exactly how it looks and works. The prototype tests the environmental and market viability of our five design principles of high ceilings, concrete core cooling, windows that open, flexible occupation and utilising thermal mass.