What is the Circular Twin?
The Circular Twin is an innovative Research and Development (R&D) process which proves how the early alliance of designers, clients, contractors and the supply chain leads to a significant reduction in Whole Life Carbon. Asking the question… "What can be achieved when carbon is the prime driver of decision making, ahead of CAPEX?"
As part of an industry-wide collaborative initiative, teams from Morgan Sindall Construction, SCAPE, HLM Architects, Cundall and Lungfish Architects worked together to innovate a new process for designing and delivering construction projects, where reducing whole life carbon is the primary objective. By applying lessons learned from past projects, challenging existing assumptions and utilising vertical collaboration with the whole supply chain, there are some exciting learnings to share.
The project was an 18-month journey, which began in an unexpected way in March 2020, on the cusp of the first UK lockdown. Not only did the team find new ways to approach carbon reduction in the construction design and delivery processes, but also new ways of working collaboratively as a group. Online brainstorming and research sessions became the norm, which further contributed to the success of the project for the team – finding new ways of working in more ways than one!
Highlight how procurement affects the design decision making process;
Showcase the value that could be captured through vertical collaboration with the value chain;
Understand the impact that capital cost decisions have on operational costs and the environment.
But why now?
With the UK declaring a climate emergency in May 2019, and two-thirds of the UK’s council’s following with their own declarations, the team wanted to do something to change the course of construction and look at how new or alternative methods could be used as part of a building's design, construction, and lifespan.
The Circular Twin responds positively to the climate emergency and demonstrated that almost cost-neutral, low carbon construction was hidden in plain sight, by the industry's reliance on traditional design and procurement approaches. The research intends to show others how early engagement and planning can allow simple changes to be made to create long-term carbon savings.
Design proposal for the Circular Twin project
The research opens doors for everyone.
The ultimate strategic objective of Circular Twin was to create a new process which integrates the latest standards and thought leadership on sustainability such that Whole Life Carbon is placed at the heart of design development.
We anticipate the outcomes of this research to be far reaching, giving prospective school clients, LCAs, Government Frameworks and other sector specific or private or public sector clients clients, the power to achieve their sustainability goals.
For our industry, the outcomes will form alternative practices and procedures to the way they work. Many in the industry share our commitment to helping the UK achieve its net zero ambitions, and we hope this offers a new way of integrating that into the delivery process.
For our stakeholders, councils and partners, the research shows the potential of what can be done. When approaching low carbon construction projects, there is a lot of misconception in the industry and in some areas the support to achieving low carbon construction is incomplete, and the Circular Twin project team wanted to challenge that.
For our end users, pupils walking into their brand-new school, a university learner using state of the art facilities or a local resident taking a jump into their brand new swimming pool. The aim for our industry is to find a better way for them, creating clean, green and exciting places for people to live, learn, work and play!
Meet the Circular Twin team
Collaboration is the key to success
Morgan Sindall Construction
Morgan Sindall Construction is a UK business with a network of local offices. Project capabilities cover the entire range of construction activities, from special works and repair and maintenance, to major landmark schemes delivered as standalone projects or as part of larger multiple project frameworks. The company operates across the public and private sectors to deliver the social infrastructure around us – from schools, universities and hospitals to retail, office and leisure environments.
Morgan Sindall Construction is part of Morgan Sindall Group plc, a leading UK construction and regeneration group with revenue of c£3 billion and which operates through six divisions of Construction & Infrastructure, Fit Out, Property Services, Partnership Housing, Urban Regeneration and Investments.
Louise Townsend, Director of Social Value & Sustainability
Louise has worked in the construction industry for twenty years and has led on Social Value for Morgan Sindall since 2012.
She is an advocate for change in commissioning, procuring, monitoring and monetising the delivery of the very broadest social value criteria to ensure resource is efficiently deployed to improve wellbeing in society.
Chris Macdonald, Project Manager
As the project lead for the Circular Twin project, Chris prides himself on having a friendly, inclusive and value-driven management style. With the hands-on experience of leading construction projects, prior experience as a mechanical engineer, and strategic roles in the procurement of specialist national frameworks, he is able to leverage Morgan Sindall's supply chain for enhanced engagement in line with the collaborative nature of Circular Twin.
Tim Clement, Head of Carbon & Environment
Tim's role is to make a positive difference on climate change and the wider ecological crisis by changing the way projects are designed and built, empowering teams to realise customers’ sustainability aspirations. With a background in design management, he studied Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment at the University of Cambridge, with a focus on the empirical and sociological aspects of the whole life carbon footprint of buildings.
Tim also sits on the carbon and energy action panel for Morgan Sindall Group, and has been instrumental in creating a whole life carbon assessment methodology for building projects.
Lee Ball, Cost Planning Director
Lee has over 25 years' blue chip, construction experience. He has been instrumental in a number of prestigious projects involving traditional tender submission, design and build, management fee, two stage tender, negotiation, framework and PFI/PPP/BSF.
SCAPE is one of the UK’s leading public sector procurement authorities, dedicated to creating spaces, places and experiences that leave a sustainable legacy within the community.
Since 2006, SCAPE has accelerated over 12,000 projects across the UK with their direct award frameworks, property services and innovative architectural designs. Working with SCAPE is all about partnership, bringing together the brightest talent from the construction industry and the local economy.
SCAPE projects are collaborative, compliant and fully performance managed to ensure delivery efficiency, taxpayer value, targeted local economic enrichment and offer a direct response to the climate emergency.
Chris Clarke, Performance & Improvement Director
As Director of Performance and Improvement, Chris is responsible for environmental and social value policy and performance measurement, as well as providing strategic input into the improvement of SCAPE’s service offering and the development of new products. He is also responsible for group Risk Management strategy, infrastructure and systems.
Tom Allen, Category Lead - Consultancy
At the time of Circular Twin, Tom was leading SCAPE's sustainability working group. Tom is a Chartered Architect by profession and has spent more than 30 years in the construction industry, latterly as a partner of a 400 strong national multi-disciplinary practice. Recently he has focused on consultancy, offering strategic and specialist advice to both the public and private sectors to help ensure their projects deliver the best outcomes and community benefits.
Lungfish Architects are experts in creating public buildings and specialists in education. They deliver purposeful, elegant, sustainable buildings that involve and inspire the people who use them. As part of SCAPE, Lungfish has a structured, client-focused approach with the single aim of providing the best possible solution for their clients’ needs. Lungfish were also shortlisted for Building Design’s Architect of the Year 2021.
Richard Murray, Technical Lead
With over 20 years’ experience working in the design and construction industry as an Architectural Technician, Richard adopts a “keep it simple but intelligent” approach to deliver cost effective but more importantly technically robust constructions.
Yasmin Nally, Associate Architect
Yasmin has a passion for sustainable design and champions this across her projects to better building performance, whilst reducing impact on users and the environment. Yasmin worked as part of the Circular Twin team to innovate a new processes by which construction projects are designed and delivered with ambitious whole life targets for embodied carbon and operational energy.
Hannah Scrimshaw, Interior Designer
Hannah is an Interior Designer at Lungfish Architects, leading the Interior concept, narrative and finishes across Lungfish’s projects. Sustainability and biophilic design have become core principles in her design approach, as well as educating clients along the journey. Working as part of a collaborative team for the Circular Twin initiative, Hannah provided her knowledge of interior finishes and design approaches to support the innovative process.
Thoughtful design and the desire to make spaces and places that improve lives sits at the heart of every discipline within HLM Architects, these include Architecture, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Environmental Sustainability and Masterplanning.
Creating places of education that inspire, healthcare environments that nurture, homes that are part of thriving communities, and infrastructure that is sustainable in its widest sense: environmentally, economically, and socially.
HLM Architects are passionate about retaining a strong Regional presence across their 5 studios located in London, Sheffield, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff but pride themselves on their ability to work internationally.
HLM Architects adopt a sector led approach, meaning clients benefit from working with teams who have specific knowledge, insight and experience in the required sector, these include Education, Healthcare, Living & Communities, Defence, Hospitality Leisure & Culture, Asset & Workplace and Justice & Emergency Services.
Karl Brown, Associate
Karl is an experienced Project Architect, leading the design and delivery of several of HLM's projects. He is passionate about sustainability and good design, championing both to improve the performance of buildings and their impact on people and the planet. On the Circular Twin project, Karl has developed the concept designs; tested and challenged the existing brief and processes; and contributed to research and development into low carbon design, technologies, and methods.
Noor Itrakjy, Senior Landscape Architect
On the Circular Twin project, Noor lead on the production of an Urban Greening Factor score, supporting on a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) calculation of the Urban Greening Factor scenarios (authored by the ecologists), inputting into qualitative research into carbon sequestration, Natural Capital and developing a comprehensive materials system comparison, seeking to find the most sustainable, innovative materials for hard landscaping.
Philip Watson, Director, Head of Design
Philip leads HLM’s design direction and has been instrumental in establishing its ‘Thoughtful Design’ ethos and the award-winning design toolkit that supports this. He is responsible for HLM’s R&D output which has recently included the Circular Twin initiative and the Social Value In Design Guidance. He is a Fellow of the RIBA and Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds.
Established in the UK 40 years ago, Cundall has developed into a global multi-disciplinary consultancy operating from over 20 locations. With sustainability at the heart of everything they do, their team of engineers delivers innovative, sustainable design solutions to address the project’s whole life cycle.
In recent years, Cundall has confirmed its place as the leaders on sustainability, health and wellbeing and net zero carbon in the education sector across the globe. In September 2020 they were confirmed as the world’s first carbon neutral consultancy, by the Carbon Trust.
Peter Hazzard, Associate Director
Peter is a chartered engineer and Associate Director at Cundall. He has 30 years experience spanning project delivery to design strategy and philosophy. He has focused on the education sector throughout his career and is now the schools sector lead for Cundall. He has successfully delivered over 40 school projects in 10 years, for clients including the DfE and EFA alongside others. He is passionate about working with clients to arrive at innovative net zero carbon design solutions.
Alex Carter, Partner
Alex is an advocate of decarbonising structural design through material selection and efficient design to help deliver net zero and low carbon projects for clients. He has designed schools in various countries using various procurement frameworks over the past 15 years and has recently been working with the Circular Twin team to explore how clients, designers, contractors and their supply chain can collaborate to reduce embodied carbon in education buildings.