DLA takes a whole life approach to carbon and a holistic approach to projects, seeking to reduce both operational and embodied carbon to ultimately deliver net zero carbon buildings and environments which support local ecosystems.

Wherever possible we adhere to the principles of passive design and a fabric first approach, and from the earliest stages of a project follow a rigorous process to optimise building form and specification.

Passive Design

Passive Design is how we optimise building form and specification to eliminate in use carbon and progress towards delivering net zero buildings. It is a diverse set of strategies and tools which we deploy to meet individual project needs.

Spatial Orientation

The orientation of a building, the configuration of its internal rooms and external the spaces around it, affects how the building will perform throughout its life in a fundamental way.

We seek to balance form factor against solar access, arranging spaces to minimise the external wall area through which energy can be lost, whilst simultaneously trying to maximise natural daylight throughout our building interiors. Through this iterative process we use 3d modelling and analysis software such as Green Building Studio to hone options and objectively demonstrate value from our proposed solutions

Fabric First Approach

We are passionate not just about good design, but in seeing our buildings operate to the highest possible standards. Through meticulous detailing and analysis of key intersections, we target high levels of airtightness and thermal bridge free construction in all our projects.

Simple User Control

Experience has taught us that performance gaps appear when user’s expectations do not align with intended modes of operation, so we would work with other consultants to support simple ventilation and cooling strategies through further passive design measures such as incorporating thermal mass or designing for cross ventilation, in preference to incorporating mechanical systems with potentially complex controls.

Embodied Carbon

The day a building opens, between 30% and 70% of all the energy it will ever consume (through construction, operation and maintenance), will have already been expended. Reaching net zero requires this initial carbon investment be radically reduced, and we are committed to helping our clients (both end user and contractors) through the coming transition.

Challenging Preconceptions

Many sectors of the construction industry have a preconceived idea of the best way to build. Often this is a solution which has been refined over decades, with a reliable supply chain and high cost certainty.

We use our diverse experience and knowledge drawn from across our business to put forward innovative proposals to reduce the carbon embodied within our projects, using strategies such as off-site construction or non-traditional materials, whilst remaining within clients cost expectations and managing risk.

Designing for the Future

As an industry we must stop constructing buildings which are torn down after 20 years. We encourage all of our clients to consider future expansion or possible changes to ways of working during the early design phases, to deliver buildings which have flexibility built in.

Carbon Optimisation

We study multiple construction systems and present carbon in the same way as financial cost and through carbon value engineering, seek to reduce embodied carbon without compromising our client’s requirements.

We take a holistic view and work with other consultants to present options in the context of time, cost, quality and risk, for example showing how increased use of cement replacements such as fly ash or GGBH may reduce the embodied carbon of concrete structures without impacting on cost or programme, if these elements can be kept off the critical path.

Central Square, Leeds, Sky Garden


Supporting Biodiversity

Our projects are about more than internal spaces, and wherever possible seek to contribute to the natural world through measures to support local ecology and increase biodiversity.

Creating Microclimates

Whether using natural features to provide shade and cooling, or carefully considering how our buildings will influence wind patterns through a site, we aim to create architecture in harmony with the surrounding environment.

Designing Sustainable Communities

People are at the heart of what we do, and a successful project must work hard for those it serves.

Featured Projects :