Architect Shortlisted for UK Green Building Council’s Rising Star Award
This month Durham architect and campaigner Mark Siddall of Lovingly Engineered Architectural Practice, more commonly known as LEAP, was in the running for a prestigious national award.
The UK Green Building Council’s Rising Star Award recognises outstanding innovation in the building industry. An elite group of six finalists was drawn from a shortlist of over sixty nominees. Mark was the only architect to make the cut. Other finalists included a property lawyer, a property manager, an economist, a building performance evaluator and an ecologist.
“Never mind being a finalist,” said 42-year-old Mark, whose work has already received considerable recognition. “Because you have to be nominated to get on the shortlist it is a great honour just to take part.”
The Rising Star Award does not merely celebrate outstanding innovation in the building industry, it also recognises the role of individuals that act as a catalyst for change in relation to sustainability and environmental performance. A member of the judging panel, Ben Farnell – a property lawyer with Baker and McKenzie – said: “This year’s awards have been the best ever in terms of breadth of entries from right across the industry, of all ages and expertise. The work of the nominees gave “a fascinating picture of how some of the best minds in sustainability think we need to take the agenda forward.”
Scientific analysis by Leeds Beckett University has proven houses designed by Mark perform as predicted, while studies by the innovation agency Innovate UK, reveal almost all buildings fail to deliver what they were designed to. In fact, they use two, three or even five times the amount of energy foreseen at design stage.
“Evidence shows failures in building performance are having four major impacts. Your health and comfort is compromised. Energy use is significantly higher, and carbon emissions are far worse than expected. In this day and age failures like these are outrageous,” said Mark.
“The driving force behind my work is to make homes that are healthy, comfortable, have low energy bills and minimise their environmental impact. To achieve this gaps in building performance must be closed. That’s why my architectural practice has re-engineered the entire design and construction processes from the ground up.”
Last year Mark’s design for Steel Farm, near Hexham, was named Best Small Project in the UK Passivhaus Awards and in September it was nominated in the Best Value Home, Best Eco Home, and Best Masonry Home categories of the national Build It Awards. Open days at Steel Farm have attracted hundreds of visitors.
The Rising Star Award was created by the UK Green Building Council and PRP in memory of Mel Starrs, a prominent built environment practitioner and associate director at PRP, who died suddenly in 2012 at the age of 39.
“Whether they are clients, contractors, tradesmen or design team members, the single greatest challenge is finding people with the right skills and motivation to develop buildings that are capable of closing performance gaps. I believe this is the biggest challenge to achieving enduring sustainable outcomes,” said Mark.
He added: “If the government is to get serious about transforming construction, improving quality and addressing environmental concerns for real, then it needs to begin investing in the re-education of the entire construction industry. It can be done.”
As well as the evidence from his low-energy homes, Mark’s campaign for change has seen him speak at international conferences, write academic papers and contributions to magazines and books, presented his work at universities and developed programmes at Northumbria University for architectural technologists and project managers. He has also produced a number of videos demonstrating his approach and results.
“Over the next five years I want to measurably reach construction professionals from around the globe and influence the work that they are undertaking – even if it is just a little bit,” he said. “That’s why my research is freely available at www.Leap4.it.”