The art and science of building sustainably with Phil Marsden

In this episode of Building sustainably: the road to net zero, Phil Marsden, Director of Project Management at Muse Developments, joins Chris Lavery to discuss how sustainable development can be achieved by building more simply, more efficiently, and more thoughtfully.

In this episode: working together on the Eden office building, Salford

How can the supply chain work together to reduce carbon? How can we build with less to create more efficient buildings? It's no easy feat, but something that Muse Developments is tackling head-on. 

Having set out to deliver the most holistically sustainable commercial building possible, Muse Developments is in the midst of completing the Eden office building in Salford. Delivered by the English Cities Fund, their long-standing partnership with Homes England and Legal & General, Eden is designed to be Net Zero in operation, targeting a NABERS UK 5.5* rating, and built in accordance with Passivhaus principles.

It's also been achieved at a cost of only 2-3% more than a traditional office building. As Commercial Managers on the project, we're delighted to welcome Phil to explore how.


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“We need to build with less. Less cost is less carbon in many ways, and actually just creating much simpler, more efficient buildings goes a long way to achieving what we need to be doing, particularly around operational energy.” Phil Marsden, Director of Project Management at Muse Developments

Meet Phil Marsden

Working with landowners and the public sector to achieve sustainable regeneration, Phil has more than twenty-two years of experience in the construction industry, including nearly six years as a quantity surveyor for Gleeds. 

After earning a BSc in Quantity Surveying from the University of Salford, Phil spent four years at Harvey & CO as a Quantity Surveyor before briefly moving to WT Partnership in the same role. After Gleeds, he became an Associate Partner at DBK before joining Muse Developments, where he's been for the last eight years. 

Key highlights

  • 2:17 - 4:25 - A Winning Partnership - Bringing together the best of the public and private sectors delivers transformational change and maximises social value. Partnership with local authorities or land owners is essential for Muse Development to achieve long-term, complex, and mixed-use development goals. This involves good quality infrastructure and sustainable transport and buildings
  • 4:25 - 6:36 - A 360-Degree Collaboration - Decarbonizing the built environment is central to achieving the net zero carbon target, given that it's responsible for twenty-five percent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. Reaching this goal requires a strong partnership with everyone in the supply chain, including local authorities, to maximise funding opportunities and close viability gaps to deliver more sustainable buildings
  • 6:36 - 10:27 - Building Eden - Muse Developments wanted to create the most holistically sustainable commercial building possible. So the company came up with Eden, a twelve-story office development built in New Bailey, Salford, delivered by the ECF development partnership. In terms of operational energy, the building is performing exceptionally well. Eden is targeting a NABERS 5.5-star rating, with a 174% net gaining biodiversity scheme thanks to Europe's largest living wall of 400,000 plants, and will be fossil fuel free
  • 13:48 - 17:14 - The Cost of Building Sustainably - When looking at the list of targets that Muse has set around operational energy, body carbon, and air quality, it does come at a cost. However, Eden is an example where the company has performed brilliantly on operational energy, costing only two to three percent more than a traditional office building. Phil believes that by approaching building more simply, efficiently, and thoughtfully you can achieve sustainable development. 
  • 20:40 - 26:14 - Reflecting the Community - When building or rebuilding, it's absolutely critical that these spaces represent the communities they sit in. They should benefit these communities, so it's crucial to understand the local needs and requirements, which differ from one community to another. These buildings should reflect the communities' social values, improve people's lives, and create business and career opportunities for younger generations

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