Ecological Building Systems’ Niall Crosson shares how his career started in the building industry and his thoughts on the future of natural building materials.
Why did you decide to pursue this career? What drove you?
I was born and reared on a farm, always conscious of the human environment and our influence on it. This also gave me an appreciation for insulation and trying to keep warm on them cold wintry nights! I suppose it’s no wonder I went to study thermodynamics and eventually completed a Masters of Engineering Science.
Who and what have influenced you?
Our director Tom Barbour has provided invaluable guidance and support over the past 15 years. Another big influence for me is Lothar Moll, the founder and CEO of pro clima, whose guidance, knowledge and energy knows no bounds.
What was the most challenging project you worked on and what did you learn?
The new Woodland Trust Headquarters in Grantham. The project was on such a large scale with a construction method which was still relatively new in the UK. I provided guidance in the field of airtightness, thermal insulation including fixing methods and weathertightness. This project confirmed to me the crucial importance of clarifying details and the drawing stage and to back this with site support at key stages. Details drawn on the plans aren’t always what materialises on site!
What building trends inspire you most?
The move not only to higher levels of energy efficiency in buildings but making it easier for homeowners to control energy use and comfort levels with the help of smart technology. Increased levels of airtightness has also led to greater awareness about the importance of ventilation and managing indoor air quality. Smart IAQ monitors will help increase awareness among the general public. The growth of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) in the market is also very exciting and has huge potential. I visited the Earth Sciences building at UBC in Vancouver where the mix of beauty and structural integrity of CLT is displayed in all its glory. Combined with the environmental benefits it ticks all the boxes. The shift towards natural materials within buildings for technical reasons rather than just environmental criteria is exciting.