Bowles first presented to the AJ100 sustainability judges with Roger Hawkins back in 2013, when Hawkins Brown was named Sustainable Practice of the Year ‘for its nuanced and connected approach to sustainability’. A decade later, and now a partner, she has embedded sustainability more widely across practice as well as leading a specialist studio (for BIM, coding, visualization, social value and post-occupancy evaluation) of 40 staff, which includes a five- strong sustainability team.
The judges, who voted unanimously for Bowles, recognized her interpersonal skills as critical to her success in ‘pulling along a design-led practice’ and applauded her ability to build consensus through sustained industry engagement.
In 2021 she led the development of a proposal for UK embodied carbon targets by reaching agreement across various industry groups, including the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), the RIBA, StructE and the Whole Life Carbon Network (WLCN), where she is on the steering group.
Through her role in WLCN, Bowles has co-authored updates to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ 2017 Whole Life Carbon Assessment Methodology, the key guidance document for measuring embodied carbon in the built environment. Recognized by the UK Green Building Council for her work at Hawkins Brown, Bowles took part in the task group that developed its Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, published in November last year. On behalf of LETI, Bowles submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee advocating a Part Z amendment of the Building Regulations to govern embodied carbon.
Within Hawkins Brown, Bowles promotes a simple approach to encourage all staff to own the message: ‘decreasing carbon emissions while enhancing society’. Her goal is that everyone should contribute, not just ‘specialists wheeled out at interviews’. As a partner, she reports to board level and liaises with sector teams with respect to their specific needs. Her team is also now winning fee-paying work.
During 2021, the sustainability team undertook over 100 interim project reviews and more than 20 whole life carbon / embodied carbon assessments, which together comprise most of its work. The latter relies on having adequate fees to involve specialists on projects to influence strategic decisions and materials choices and to co-ordinate passive design strategies. ‘Sustainable design is not all about engineering; architects can contribute a lot, ‘says Bowles.
Project highlights during 2021 included a collaboration with Max Fordham on a housing design guide for the London Borough of Camden and a competition entry for a net zero energy / materials / water glasshouse for Oxford Botanic Garden. In the pipeline are numerous commercial retrofit projects that include tenant leases which clearly set out both landlord and tenant net zero carbon responsibilities. Other projects include advisory work with several local authorities to translate climate pledges into actionable items, and post-completion requests for embodied carbon measurement.
Bowles has also overseen the development of H B: ERT, the practice’s open-source embodied carbon tool, launched in 2018. H B: ERT was updated last year to include early-stage benchmarking, as well as offsetting advice, which is now increasingly requested by clients.
Highly commended: Jonathan Roynon, technical director, Buro Happold, nominated by EPR Architects
Jonathan Roynon of Buro Happold was highly commended as a sustainability champion for his impactful work promoting industry understanding of the embodied carbon implications of different structural systems.
His Embodied Carbon: Structural Sensitivity study graphically illustrates specific design decisions and levers for changes that can reduce the embodied carbon of concrete, steel and timber structures so that designers can easily grasp their relative embodied carbon impacts. Roynon’s study empowered EPR’s team to explore the carbon and design implications of alternative structural systems with greater clarity across all their projects. According to EPR associate Alex Potter: ‘Sometimes up to a 50 per cent reduction in embodied carbon can be achieved just by having a conversation. Jonathan has empowered us to lead these conversations. ‘
- Karl Brown, head of sustainability, HLM Architects
- Taleen Josefsson, Thrive project manager, Chetwoods
- Sarah Lee, senior associate architect, Stride Treglown, and founding member of Future Plymouth 2030
- James Woodall, head of sustainability, Allies and Morrison
AJ100 Sustainability Champion of the Year is supported by headline partner