2 June 2023

How one ‘big, hairy, audacious’ idea sparked a carbon reduction collaboration

Tanvi Patel knows that by substituting 12mm vitrified tiles with 15mm polished concrete tiles for a 5550 sqm construction project, she will reduce the project’s total embodied carbon output by 1,787 tonnes. She also knows that by sharing this knowledge, she can have the biggest possible impact on our industries’ journey towards net zero construction.

In a significant collaboration between the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning and The Footprint Company (a member of the TSA group), Tanvi tutors design students in embodied carbon and design excellence. She does this by facilitating access to The Footprint Company’s award-winning carbon management tools; The Footprint Calculator™ and Greenbook™. By graduation, these students are proficient in these systems and equipped with real-world, practical knowledge.

An alumna of the University of Sydney with a Master of Architectural Science (Sustainable Design), Tanvi now works with The Footprint Company as a Sustainability and Carbon Consultant. With the encouragement of her mentor, Dr Caroline Noller, Tanvi reached out to her alma mater with a ‘big, hairy, audacious’ idea.

At that point, Tanvi had spent close to 1.5 years working with The Footprint Company’s trademarked tools and resources. These include The Footprint Calculator™, a powerful and streamlined estimating tool for calculating embodied carbon and ecological footprint, and the Greenbook™. Tanvi felt that these highly intuitive carbon management resources would prove invaluable to students embarking on the same sustainability journey she so passionately pursues.

Tanvi’s simple yet impactful proposal was that introducing The Footprint Company’s tools to University of Sydney curriculums would improve student learning capabilities. And Dr Ozgur Gocer agreed.

A former professor of Tanvi’s, Dr Gocer is Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Design at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning and holds a PhD in Building Science from the Istanbul Technical University (Turkey). Her research interests are sustainable building design, building and building materials performance simulations, and post-occupancy evaluation of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Following Tanvi’s proposal, Dr Gocer participated in a Footprint Company summer school. She was impressed by the simplicity, accuracy, and ease of using their carbon management tools. She was also delighted to see her former student, Tanvi, so expertly sharing her knowledge of net zero carbon design excellence with the world.

With Dr Gocer’s backing, her ‘Sustainable Construction Technology’ Masters unit began using The Footprint Company’s resources as part of its curriculum in 2023. Thanks to her intimate knowledge of the software, Tanvi accepted a University of Sydney teaching position (in addition to her role with The Footprint Company). She now works alongside Dr Gocer, helping to design the unit’s assessment outline and curriculum and guiding students on The Footprint Company’s tools and resources. Dr Caroline Noller, who founded The Footprint Company to make low-carbon design more accessible, also delivered an introductory session to the students on the global carbon emissions scenario and how it can and should be tackled.

So far, Tanvi’s big, audacious, hairy idea has sparked:

  • a valuable and significant collaboration between The Footprint Company and the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning.
  • the introduction of The Footprint Company’s tools and resources to the School’s Master of Architectural Science course curriculum.
  • the completion of 2 course assignments (so far) by 63 students using The Footprint Calculator™ to achieve design excellence.
  • an internal presentation by Clifton James (a Master of Architectural Science student) sharing his learnings from and experience with The Footprint Calculator™ with TSA’s people.
  • the ongoing improvement of the Footprint Company’s already impressive resources through active and invited student feedback.

Perhaps most importantly, Tanvi has fulfilled her dream of following in her grandfather’s footsteps. Since she was little, Tanvi watched Mr.Bhikubhai Patel, a professor in Mathematics, touch countless lives with his teachings. Today she proudly honours his memory by passing her passion and knowledge of sustainable design to her students.

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