Developing upfront guidelines — tackling barriers to zero carbon construction

Why commission a playbook?

The advantages are not just limited to achieving lower embodied carbon figures for a project and/or avoiding procurement barriers. The wider community benefits too, as a playbook can identify opportunities for investment and employment in local businesses, and contribute directly to the upskilling of existing industries and service providers.

Playbooks — sustainability hierarchy


All too often, designers come up with innovative ways to lower the embodied carbon of construction only to hit barriers in supply, expertise, will, policy and/or regulation.

At Whitby Wood, we’ve been flipping the design process on its head, using the development of Playbooks to tackle barriers early on — for UK projects and internationally.


We consider key aspects, such as …

Site characteristics
— geology, existing infrastructure, microclimate and biodiversity

Local resources
— opportunities for frame or building reuse, existing local low-carbon materials, existing industries and agriculture, local expertise, historical knowledge and traditional skills, natural geology of the area

Resulting materials options
— including bio-based materials (such as timber), technofossils (discarded manmade objects) of all scales, and whether local low carbon production facilities are available

Options for design approach
— a construction kit of parts, automated component typology design, use of robotics, an integrated Smart building approach, use of 3D printing

Potential community benefits
— investment and employment opportunities, increased connectivity, healthier ways of living

Analysis of these considerations, and the client’s development brief results in a series of recommendations. The focus is on proposals that use passive technologies and low-carbon construction methods. A bespoke diet of materials is developed for the project.

Playbooks generic map

CONTACT : Kelly Harrison

See also Plotting our route to zero >