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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Challenges and Strategies for Moving towards Sustainability within Office Buildings Using a Case Study of the Save the Children Headquarters in London

With the increasing transition towards the knowledge economy and the urbanisation of the world’s population then there will be a greater demand for office type workplaces. However, the focus of sustainability efforts in Britain has tended to be on the industrial and residential building sectors, and the growing problem posed by the poor construction and operation of offices has been neglected. The advice and support offered to those in the office sector has tended to be confusing and narrowly-focussed.

Using an approach which combined both a physical assessment of energy and resource use and interviews and discussions with staff, a modern office building in London, occupied by Save the Children UK, was investigated as a case study in an attempt to answer two research questions: What can be done to improve the sustainability performance of office buildings? and What are the factors preventing the implementation of such improvements?

Proposals have been developed from the analysis of the case study, as well as the existing literature. These include the incorporation of well-known technologies such as automatic lighting control, but also a more concentrated focus on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. Some more novel strategies which question the overall need for space and IT provision are also suggested. Ultimately, it was found that clearer guidance is needed for office facility managers and that more effort needs to be made to make organisations aware of the wider benefits of improved health and productivity that can come from instituting sustainability measures.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.