Get to know your CIBSE authors and trainers - Louise Hamot & Clara Bagenal George

This October, CIBSE Training will release a new training course on embodied carbon - Embodied carbon in MEP design: How to use CIBSE TM65. The course is based on the popular CIBSE Knowledge publication Embodied carbon in building services: A calculation methodology (TM65), and will be led by TM65 authors Louise Hamot, Global Lead of Lifecycle Research, Elementa Consulting and Clara Bagenal George, Associate, Elementa Consulting.  

To celebrate the launch of the course, we’ve had a chat with Louise and Clara - to find out a bit more about their reasons for creating this publication and the associated course, and about what it takes to be a CIBSE author and/or trainer.

Iulia Margineanu: Hello Louise and Clara, thank you for making the time to give the CIBSE community a chance to find out more about your work as CIBSE authors and future trainers. What are your building services area or areas of expertise?

Louise Hamot & Clara Bagenal George: Net zero, embodied carbon, mechanical, sustainability and the circular economy.

IM: Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

LH & CBG: We have been working closely together since 2018 on embodied carbon and other sustainability projects. We believe that it is our responsibility as professionals to act to address our global climate issues. In 2019, we have worked together to co-develop Embodied carbon in building services: A calculation methodology (TM65), published in January 2021.

LH: I am based in France and as the Global Lead of Lifecycle Research, I lead the development of Elementa’s global lifecycle practice and research, supporting global teams in low carbon assessment and advising architects and clients on design strategies to minimise their environmental impact. I also lead research and development initiatives in whole life carbon studies for building services and their contribution to the performance of the building as a whole. I have the chance to be involved in different international collaborations initiatives such as LETI when I was in London and currently part of the ASHRAE decarbonisation taskforce and the Whole Life Carbon Network (WLCN).

CBG: I am based in London and an associate at Elementa Consulting. As well as focusing on embodied carbon I work on net zero roadmaps and policy. In 2017 I initiated LETI a voluntary group of built environment professionals, which last year published the Climate Emergency Design Guide that outlines the requirements of new buildings to ensure our climate change targets are met.

IM: Thank you, it's nice to hear more about you two! Moving on to your recent publication Embodied carbon in building services: A calculation methodology (TM65), could you tell us what are some of the key areas that it expands on?

LH: The publication focuses on the embodied carbon impact of building services equipment and outlines a method to assess embodied carbon for such products.

The publication also highlights the need for consistency and rules of thumb for building services engineers to make the right decisions early in the design process, alongside the importance of environmental product declarations (EPDs) with further insight into what these are and how to create them.

IM: Interesting! What should the readers expect to achieve by reading the publication in terms of knowledge and best practice in building services?

Readers will gain a general understanding about embodied carbon and how it relates to building services, with a closer look at embodied carbon calculations and the information that should be requested from manufacturers about their products.

There are also insights into how to assess the embodied carbon of building services products, with key learnings about the value of EPDs.

IM: Sounds like our readers have a lot to learn from TM65 on embodied carbon. If anyone reading this interview on your author experience is thinking about becoming an author and/or contributor, what piece of advice would you give them?

LH: If you are passionate about a specific area, start to engage with others about it and start writing and speaking about it. For us, this journey started with a technical symposium paper and giving a range of talks which eventually led to collaborating with CIBSE on the development of this TM. 

In a nutshell, we would say:

 start small, be bold, collaborate and listen to others.

IM: Great advice! Now moving on to your future CIBSE Trainer experience. What made you want to become CIBSE trainers? 

CBG: Both of us are really excited to become CIBSE trainers on this topic. Our aim is to share our knowledge with building services engineers, a group that we believe need to become more literate in embodied carbon in order to address our climate crisis and to engage with Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) products in the most sustainable manner.

IM: As new CIBSE trainers, what are you most looking forward to?

LH:  We want to have the opportunity to support and solve the direct questions professionals might have to deal with during their day-to-day. We are also always open to learning from those around us about how we could improve the methodology and publication in the future.

IM: Sounds like you are really passionate about your topic area and eager to share it with others. Do you have a favourite part about it, I mean your topic area?

CBG: The diversity of stakeholders engaged in the lifecycle of built assets makes this topic really challenging but also incredibly interesting. For example, looking at the embodied carbon of a heat pump can be broken down into many levels of analysis; from where it came from, who made it, who will install it, how this will be done, who will use it and how it performs, all the way through to the end-of-life journey of the product.

Embodied carbon calculations can become very complex. Therefore, it can be an interesting challenge to create something simple enough to be used practically, yet robust enough to be fit for purpose.

IM: Why do you think that it’s important that building services professionals keep up with their professional development?

LH: Approaching design in a sustainable way requires the ability to deal with vast amounts of information. As we gain more understanding and visibility about the long-term impact of our decisions, we must continue to adapt. 

The world is evolving at a fast pace, which is why building services engineers need to stay up to date with best practice guidance, as a result of continuous professional development.

IM: If you could invest in research in your topic area, what would it be and why? 

CBG: We are currently finalising a CIBSE research insight paper on embodied carbon in heating in residential, using the CIBSE TM65 methodology. We are hoping that we can explore more building typologies and building services disciplines to create robust benchmarks and rules of thumb to be used early in the design process, allowing the right decisions to be made.

IM: If you could go back to your younger self when you started working in building services, what advice would you give yourself or would you try to change some of the decisions and actions done then?

LH: We are lucky to both still be in what we would consider the early stages of our careers, but what we do know is that young professionals should not be afraid to challenge the status quo. The landscape is changing fast and so must the way that we work - everyone is needed. 

It is also important to engage with others across the industry, whether that’s within your own company, or beyond. You learn more when working with others than you do sitting in your silo.

IM: Lastly, what would you tell someone who is just about to start or consider working in building services?

CBG: You can have a massive impact, as it is an incredibly fast-paced environment. Don’t forget to be curious and keep asking questions.

If you are interested in climate change, remember that there is a lot more to consider than just operational efficiency.

Finally, the best thing about the job is the people within the industry. There will never be a lack of passion or enthusiasm around you, which can help to keep you going when you might feel challenged.

IM: Thank you for your time, Louise and Clara, it was great finding out more about TM65 as well as your thoughts on becoming a CIBSE Trainer.

Book your place on the 'Embodied carbon in MEP design: How to use CIBSE TM65' training to receive a complimentary copy of 'Embodied carbon in building services: A calculation methodology (TM65)' or purchase your copy   


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