Insights / Sustainable buildings: Opus Energy sponsoring the next generation of architects

Sustainable buildings: Opus Energy sponsoring the next generation of architects

21st September 2020

Opus Energy are proud to be sponsoring the Extreme Lodge Desert Lodge student competition. Students from across the globe were invited to design a temporary shelter for extreme climate conditions in a hot desert. As part of this sponsorship, Valpy Fitzgerald, Director of Renewables and Green Markets at Opus Energy will be judging the 61 entrants this month.

Sustainable buildings: Opus Energy sponsoring the next generation of architects

The Extreme Lodge project brings together many internationally experienced professionals, from architects to engineers and academics who are developing lodges for extreme climates. The aim of the project is to learn how we can adapt to the impacts of climate change and improve the designs our buildings with minimal financial impacts and without damaging our planet in the process.

The Desert Lodge competition opened last month and is open to university students. It hopes to change the conversation for designers within the construction industry, helping to create buildings that play a role in climate solutions. It’s a competition with climate change at its heart.

To enter, students were asked to design a tent for two researchers in the Desert of Dubai for use during fieldwork. The tent must keep them safe in outdoor temperatures of up to 45C. By working under the extremes, it is an opportunity for students to push themselves beyond the business as usual designs we see today and become the designers of the climate-proof buildings of tomorrow.

The idea came out of conversations between architects after a temporary shelter, named the Polar Lodge (pictured below), was built in the testing conditions of Antarctica in 2018. Withstanding -30C temperatures and 150 mph winds on the 2018 trip led to a lot of learnings for these architects s – and ultimately resulted in them questioning how a structure would survive in the opposite conditions. The Desert Lodge competition will provide students with an equally educational experience, changing their world view of their responsibilities and opportunities as climatic designers.

This month a panel of judges, including Opus Energy’s Valpy Fitzgerald, will judge 61 entries from 267 students across 27 countries. £4,000 in prizes is up for grabs, sponsored by Opus Energy.


The Polar Lodge rested over two winters in Collins B, on King George island, Antarctica.

Sustainability in building

The specifications for the desert shelter introduce the idea of sustainability within design and construction. The shelter should aim to have:

Businesses today face a number of threats, with climate change causing extreme weather events such as heatwaves or storms far more frequently. And pandemics, such as we’re currently experiencing, call for a rethink of the office environments too. Many companies are already thinking ahead about the type of buildings they’re occupying, and how.

Installing solar panels are a great option for producing your own renewable energy and increasing the sustainability credentials of your business building. At Opus Energy House, we have 700 solar panels providing around 12% of the energy needed at the office. But, not all sustainability efforts need to be like this project – smaller changes such as switching your lighting for LEDs or turning down the thermostat one or two degrees can make a huge difference too.

Whatever it is that your business does to up the sustainability credentials of your building, there’s no doubt that the lessons learnt in this competition will help to inform the more resilient buildings of tomorrow.

Related articles