UK architects declare environment and climate emergency

1st July 2019

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  • Built environment ,
  • Construction ,
  • sea ice loss ,
  • Biodiversity



The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) declared an “environment and climate emergency“ at its triannual meeting of council members last Thursday.

The institute also announced that it would support the UK's 2050 target for net zero emissions, and use its influence to improve government policy and regulation.

Moreover, the RIBA said it would develop and implement a five-year Ethics and Sustainable Action Plan, which will include “measurable actions“ to support a net zero carbon built environment.

“The climate emergency is the biggest challenge facing our planet and our profession,“ RIBA president, Ben Derbyshire, said. “But we need to turn warm words into impactful actions.

“The implementation of a five-year action plan we have committed to will ensure we are able to benchmark change and evaluate the actions that make the most impact.“

Buildings and construction account for nearly 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions in the UK, and the sector also has a significant impact on natural habitats.

The RIBA said its five-year plan would drive industry standards and practices at a national and international level, and improve the institute's own carbon footprint.

It will also support voluntary reporting of core building performance metrics, and work towards the whole-life net zero carbon standard and Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) reporting metrics when guidance is available.

This comes after a group of leading UK architects signed an open letter declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency last month, and called on others to do the same.

Haworth Tompkins and 16 other winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize said that the sector needs a “paradigm shift“ in behaviour to avoid breaching the earth's ecological boundaries.

Establishing climate and biodiversity mitigation principles, and advocating a faster shift to regenerative design practices are among various commitments outlined in the letter.

We only have 11 years to agree and implement a net zero carbon trajectory for new and retrofitted buildings, and infrastructure, said RIBA's Sustainable Futures Group chair, Gary Clark.

“The RIBA will be guiding the profession, but we must all take action to voluntarily reduce operational emissions and embodied carbon significantly beyond regulation.“

Image credit: ©iStock


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