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GlobalData: RIBA aims for net-zero buildings by 2030

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“With the built-up environment a serious contributor of carbon emissions, architects have a part to play in tackling climate change. While not yet a standard practice, net-zero design is surely the way forward,” said GlobalData Construction Journalist, Ross Davies.

“The ultimate aim of net-zero buildings is to either reduce or offset carbon emissions produced beyond construction and across their entire lifecycles. Constructions able to achieve this have the potential to not only be low-impact, but actually serve as an energy source for the wider area.”

Davies continued, “This is the case with Lark Rise, a smart home situated in the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury, UK. Designed by Bere Architects, it is the country’s first domestic dwelling to be designed to Passivhaus Plus – the world’s toughest energy design standard. Completed in 2015, Lark Rise produces around double the energy it consumes and exports ten times as much energy as it gets from the national grid.”

“In September this year, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) revealed its Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment had surpassed 60 signatories. Among those to have signed the commitment – which aims to ensure all new building portfolios are carbon neutral by 2030 – are businesses, organisations, states and cities, including London, New York and Tokyo. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the built environment is responsible for approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the body gave its support to a new document published by UK Green Building Council (the UK arm of WGBC).”

Adrian Dobson, RIBA’s Executive Director of Professional Services, tells GlobalData: “Tackling climate change is high on the agenda for architects. It’s been encouraging to see so many architects sign up to our 2030 Climate Challenge, which sets tough but achievable targets to help meet net-zero – or better – whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. Changing the way the construction industry operates is not going to happen overnight, but architects have the knowledge, skills and experience to lead in making these changes. Architects will need all their powers of persuasion to make the case to clients for exceeding regulatory minimums and ensure they’re on board with tackling the climate emergency.”

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