What if we re-prioritize our entire design process to address optimizing energy, water, and waste cycles? While at Woods Bagot, I had the opportunity to lead an interdisciplinary team on the jointly funded Zero E project, a design and process research project with Buro Happold, involving a global effort and pilot design. Our research began with the in depth analysis of a former steel mill site on the Yangtze rifver near Chongqing, to better understand the role integrated ecological infrastructure could play in a mixed-use development.
Key questions for investigation:
Can a centralized energy approach, combined with demand reduction and onsite resources, enable an annual net zero energy master plan? Can eco infrastructure contribute in a meaningful and quantifiable way?
Our process took advantage of the Buro Happold's array of engineering expertise, from site hydrology and sustainable infrastructure design to custom modeling tools and analytics, to holistically address systems from energy and water to on-site waste processing and food production.
A series of custom software tools were adapted or created to provide real-time feedback for site wide resource systems design. The climate and site offered a carrying capacity in terms of solar income, projected water re-use, and waste-to-energy potential. These resources were modeled and then influenced “the mix” of our mixed use program.