RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge: What our experts say

14 April, 2021

Focussing on our commitment to incrementally improve the carbon reduction of projects across Pick Everard and drive real positive change that benefits everyone, last year we signed up to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.

Pick Everard director Dr. Jose Hernandez and national design director David Shaw share their thoughts on the initiative, which is designed to help designers to meet net zero (or better) whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. The initiative sets a series of targets to reduce operational energy, embodied carbon and water as well as delivering best practice health metrics.

Dr. Jose Hernandez said: “In my opinion, the RIBA Sustainable Outcomes Guide – which defines a concise set of eight sustainable outcomes linked to key UN Sustainable Development Goals – directly links to the 2030 Climate Challenge, as well as the RIBA Plan of Work 2020, and provides design principles for architects that will help to resolve the well-known gaps between design intent and in-use performance.

“Having said this, I still feel that there’s a lot of work to do. The Challenge doesn’t take into account the fact that different types of buildings generate varying amounts of carbon, so further refinement of targets will be required. Also, some of our new-build projects already go beyond RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge in terms of their environmental impact – more specifically, projects for Essex County Council, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice.

“As a member of Scape’s Built Environment Consultancy Services framework, operating under Perfect Circle’s unique collaboration, we are also striving to enable the construction of new buildings that are carbon neutral to be operational as early as 2022 – as per Scape’s environmental policy.”

As part of our ongoing commitment to more sustainable practices, we also became one of the delivery partners for the NABERS UK scheme, which was launched in November 2020 and developed via the Building Better Partnership initiative. This scheme plays a vital role in bridging the performance gap between the design and in-use energy performance of offices in the UK and create much-needed transparency for the market.

Jose added: “We would also recommend the use of Climate Based Daylight Modelling instead of Daylight Factors and agree with the use of CIBSE TM54 and Design for Performance for detailed operational energy predictions. Other sustainability areas that can have an impact on energy and carbon – depending on where the boundaries of the project are set – include transport, sustainable communities and social value.

The Architects Registration Board has recently proposed plans that would see , as well as fire safety, procurement routes and ethics. The government has also recently proposed a National Model Design Code, which aims to play a central role in banning ‘ugliness’ from new developments. With these proposals in consultation, David Shaw reflects on how RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge may impact future design strategies.

He said: “From a design perspective, sustainability and the journey to net zero carbon is an integral part of our business plan over the next five years, with internal training and upskilling where required to ensure that our entire team are fully conversant with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge requirements.

“One thing that we’re exploring is the implementation of a Design Hub, which will be accessible to all staff. This will be a depository for good practice and accessible tools that will assist the development of our projects. Our Design Review process is being readdressed to more rigorously investigate sustainable solutions for all projects. As a result of this, we also want to work more closely with our clients to define and refine project sustainability criteria and implement early environmental design analysis on all projects using complimentary software to inform the architectural solutions.

“Considering the built environment contributes around 40 per cent of the UK’s total carbon footprint, this presents a huge opportunity for the industry to positively influence the climate crisis, however, we must ensure that this is a collaborative approach with all contributors in the construction sector.

“Having said this, one of the major challenges posed is the fact that 70 per cent of the buildings currently in use will still be in use in 2050, which is why a major priority must be to decarbonise our existing structures, with a view to re-use and improve, rather than simply replace. We must strip initial designs right back to basics in terms of identifying the principles of orientation, fabric, daylight, ventilation and environmental control with full consideration of lifecycle implications.”

For more information about RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge, visit https://bit.ly/3aWCX4K.




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