2030 Climate Challenge: RIBA sets out its stall

Photo: Architects Assembly organised by ACAN. instagram: @vanlophoto

As climate change continues to dominate discussion across a variety of sectors, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has followed up joining the June declaration of an environment and climate emergency by launching a climate change campaign initiative, in consultation with the Green Construction Board and the Committee on Climate Change. The summer announcement made it clear that the profession understands the size of the challenge. This campaign, seen alongside representatives from across the construction industry joining the recent Global Climate Strike, sends out a message that they’re serious about doing something about it.

The aim is to get all architects to meet a minimum of net zero whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. This is running hand in hand with a campaign to lobby the government to set new regulatory standards.

This is to be achieved by the setting of targets in four designated areas:

  • operational energy: reduce by at least 75%, before UK offsetting
  • embodied carbon: reduce by at least 50-70%, before UK offsetting
  • potable water: reduce by 40%
  • health and wellbeing: achieve all core targets

The idea is that where RIBA goes, the wider construction industry will follow. It needs to, as RIBA President Alan Jones explains:

“Given the built environment is responsible for around 40% of our carbon footprint, the way we design and deliver, run and maintain buildings must transform if we are to effectively tackle climate change. Architects have the knowledge, skills and experience to take the lead. I encourage all RIBA Chartered Practices to demonstrate their commitment and sign up to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge. This is an emergency and we must all take action, without delay.”

This suggests that architecture and the built environment need to be in the vanguard of climate change initiatives, so the campaign is a significant part of RIBA’s aim to ensure that this is the case.

RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance, added this:

“The RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge sets the targets we, alongside other expert bodies, believe are vital to encourage the construction industry to deliver the necessary change.”

The complementary and integrated approach being pushed by Mr. Vallance should be seen in the context of parallel campaigning currently being undertaken throughout the industry. For example, Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) held its first Architects Assembly on the 22nd October. One of the key takeaways from the day was that the road to #NetZero 2030 starts now. With professional bodies, industry professionals and activists on board, sharing resources and building knowledge, it appears that the campaign has every chance of success.

Furthermore, RIBA will shortly be publishing its Plan of Work 2020. This includes updated guidance regarding sustainability, as well as a sustainable outcomes guide. These documents will aid members and practices in developing and implementing transparent, measurable and achievable goals that will ensure their projects meet the 2030 Climate Challenge targets.

The industry should see the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets as an opportunity for all 3688 RIBA Chartered Practices to play their part in fighting this global crisis.

You can find out more here.