Across the globe, authorities and environmental activists alike have stressed the need for a community-driven ‘collective will’ to seek reductions in carbon emissions. Of the UK’s total carbon footprint, roughly 40 per cent comes from the built environment; therefore, it is suggested that shifting to lower or zero carbon buildings is critical in order to decrease the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
The Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), an architecture body headquartered in London, has declared its commitment to a five-year sustainability action plan with the aim to make zero carbon buildings standard practice. RIBA trustees have highlighted the need for urgent change amid the world’s current ‘environment and climate emergency’. Having pledged to formally recognise ‘the scale and urgency of climate change and that as architects [they] have an obligation to demonstrate leadership for a sustainable future’, they have agreed to develop ‘measurable actions’ aimed at improving ‘green standards and practices within the architecture profession’. This has been called for following the UK’s recently passed law and set target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Along with RIBA, several other architecture firms and bodies are also voicing their concerns, stressing the fact that although zero carbon buildings are a possibility today, both the construction and architecture sectors have, to date, lacked the community-driven will ‘to deliver a climate-friendly built environment at a large scale’.
Students planning to apply to Architecture, as well as those interested in applying to Engineering or Land Economy, may reflect on how our societies can bridge the gap between developing and constructing populated spaces whilst also conserving and protecting the environment – for example by taking into consideration potential ways in which to refine the policies and metrics used to assess the ‘whole-life net zero carbon standard for buildings’, with the intention to create sustainable cities.