Supporting the new Ten Minute Rule Bill on Embodied Carbon in Buildings
It is excellent news that on 2nd February Duncan Baker MP will bring a Ten-Minute Rule Bill before parliament that will ask for the whole-life carbon emissions of buildings to be reported, and for the first time require the construction sector to set a limit for embodied carbon! You can read about his Carbon Emissions (Buildings) Bill on his blog.
If supported, this Bill could be a hugely significant step for our industry. However, Baker’s Bill requires the support of his fellow MPs immediately after the reading if it is to have a chance of proceeding to the next stage and gain a Second Reading on its route to becoming law.
It’s therefore imperative that we raise awareness of this important Bill among as many MPs as possible, and encourage them to attend its presentation. We urge all Architects Declare signatories and supporters to write to your local MP today and encourage them to support Duncan Baker’s massively important De-carbonising Bill on 2nd February. You can find your MP here.
25 January 2022
Architects Declare is recruiting new Steering Group members
We have vacancies on our Steering Group and are keen to recruit new members
reflecting the diversity of signatory practices as we develop AD’s programme.
New members will contribute to the full range of the Steering Group’s discussions and decisions, and will also bring specific areas of expertise. We are seeking individuals with expertise in any of the following: financial management, fundraising, or communications and social media.
Please click here for the role description and details of how to apply.
20 December 2021
Built Environment Declares survey report: “Businesses declare sweeping support for tighter regulation and planning systems to achieve net zero goals”
With the crucial COP26 UN Climate Change Summit taking place in Glasgow, leading architectural, engineering, planning and construction companies are demanding the government introduce a carbon tax/law on ecocide to tackle the climate crisis and say VAT should also be reformed to promote refurbishment over new-build projects. Uniting as the umbrella group Built Environment Declares - in which Architects Declare is a partner - they say these changes are needed to meet the UK’s net zero carbon targets and the wider response to the climate crisis.
They are also pressing for changes to building regulations and planning systems such that:
“We are strongly committed to making changes in our own practices, but changes in regulation, taxation and legislation are essential to achieve the rapid and profound reduction in carbon emissions legislated by the UK Parliament.”
In the lead up to COP26, a survey of attitudes across UK built environment professional firms has measured the level of their concern and commitment to change. This survey was returned by over 200 UK businesses, including architects, contractors, building services, civil, and structural engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and project managers strive to “...meet the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour”.
The survey took the form of a questionnaire to discover the level of a signatory’s commitment to specific changes in their own practice, in regulation and in legislation. The short report and results are available here.
8 November 2021
Architects Declare launches Practice Guide at Built Environment Summit
Architects Declare today published its Practice Guide, which we have developed to help signatory architectural practices convert their declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency into meaningful action and build momentum within their practice. Co-written by members of the Architects Declare Steering Group and many Architects Declare volunteers, and reviewed by leading industry experts, it features over 60 exemplar projects from a range of practices in the UK and abroad. We would like to thank all those involved for their dedication in producing this piece of guidance.
A live, working document, the Practice Guide helps fulfil the fourth point in Architects Declare’s 12-point declaration by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and research on an open-source basis. Part 1 of the guide is a Practice Roadmap which provides 5 simple steps to transform your business. Part 2 is a Project Design Guide focused on the fundamentals of truly sustainable design and demonstrated through exemplars. The AD Practice Guide will evolve and be refined in future iterations as our understanding of the climate and biodiversity crises develops, and as our industry innovates to find new solutions to these challenges. We will seek the support of our signatory architectural practices and others in ensuring future versions of the guide remain useful.
We launched the Guide today at the Built Environment Summit, organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects in association with Architects Declare. Announcing the Practice Guide at the Summit, Tara Gbolade of Gbolade Design Studio and a member of the Architects Declare Steering Group, said:
"Last year our signatories told us they wanted Architects Declare to be more than a moment of declaration. They wanted a supportive network that addressed the lack of knowledge and direction on this journey. We want to say ‘Thank you’ to all who contributed to it, the countless volunteers, and those who have endorsed the Guide"
The Guide is available now from the Resources page, along with a short form for signatories' feedback and for anyone who would like to help develop further versions of the document to register their interest.
Endorsing the Guide, Ben Derbyshire, a past president of the RIBA, said:
"Most architecture practices are small businesses for whom creating a route map to zero carbon operation and monitoring progress is a serious challenge on top of the day to day pre-occupation with project delivery. Equally well guiding our clients towards the right carbon-cutting decisions in the cost conscious and risk averse world of development is a tough ask. So the practical guidance from the Architects Declare Guide as a growing knowledge platform is a real boon for those of us wrestling with the issues."
And Jess Hrivnak, Sustainable Development Adviser with the RIBA, said:
“The Architects Declare Practice Guide is a compendium of advice for everyone, no matter the size or scale of business, on how to implement and realise the AD Declaration Points."
29 October 2021
Architects Declare supports new LETI Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide
Architects Declare fully support the LETI Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide and applaud the hugely talented team behind this well-timed publication. We acknowledge the importance of prioritising the retrofitting and re-use of the existing built environment over demolition and new build if we are to have any hope of meeting Net Zero Carbon targets for 2050. Whilst we appreciate the challenges that successful low carbon retrofit presents the architecture profession, like LETI, we believe that our industry has the collective knowledge and expertise to step up and meet this head-on.
With careful reasoning, backed up with meticulous research and (as with previous LETI publications) exemplary infographics, LETI provide us with the tools to deliver on ambitious Net Zero carbon targets which will not be met without carbon emissions from the UK’s 28 million homes being reduced by over 70%. LETI present us with clear working methods and explanations for ‘Why retrofit’, ‘What is Retrofit’, and ‘How we do it”, supported by accessible case studies and the brilliant “Home Retrofit Specification” for different house types. The guide makes the case for the social, health & well-being benefits of retrofit, whilst arguing the case for the huge opportunities a national retrofit programme will present the whole of the UK in the form of 100,000’s of new jobs and “a £309bn boost to the economy”.
The issue of retrofitting our homes has never been so high-profile, and recently, so controversial. Recent developments have not detracted from the fact that decarbonising our housing stock is a huge priority if we are to meet Net Zero Carbon targets and try to slow down the Climate and Ecological Emergency, whilst creating climate-resilient, healthy and affordable homes for everybody. This guide makes the case, and crucially, provides clear deliverable working methodologies that can be understood by clients, tenants and the whole design team.
The LETI Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide was launched on 21st October 2021 is available to download here.
21 October 2021
Architects Declare, Global Climate Strike & Climate Justice
In today’s Fridays for Future global climate strike, architects are among those demonstrating their commitment to action on the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency. A focus of this year's action is Fridays for Future's call for 'intersectional climate justice' - meaning that "the climate crisis does not exist in a vacuum. Other socio-economic crises such as racism, sexism, ableism, class inequality, and more amplify the climate crisis and vice versa."
The climate emergency is not a single issue. Different people, communities and regions experience its impacts differently. Architects Declare - a network of architectural practices committed to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency through an 11-point declaration - is seeking signatories’ views on a proposed twelfth point to highlight this:
Declaration on climate justice
"We will seek to - Support those who are working for climate justice and strive to ensure equity and an improved quality of life for all.”
Architects Declare launched in May 2019 with a commitment to promote and build momentum around our original 11 declaration points, and since then over 1,100 architectural practices across the UK have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency. Over time, however, it has become clear that the issue of climate justice is not sufficiently prominent and many have raised this imbalance. The increasing attention to the injustices of impacts globally - including within the UK - suggests that our declaration should redress this.
Today, while some Architects Declare signatories are supporting their employees in gathering for public events around the UK, others are making time 'in-house' to discuss and research the actions that their practices are best placed to take on our urgent priorities. We welcome whatever support practices are able to show, including to the call for climate justice as part of our response to the emergency.
Our consultation with signatories ends on 8th October and the result will be reflected in the new Architects Declare Practice Guide that we have developed to support all signatories in their actions. This will be released at the RIBA and Architects Declare Built Environment Summit on 28th & 29th October.
24 September 2021
Report - Built for the Environment: Addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency with a fair and sustainable built environment.
RIBA, in partnership with Architects Declare, has today published Built for the Environment: Addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency with a fair and sustainable built environment. The report demonstrates how:
Built for the Environment - published in the lead-up to the RIBA and Architects Declare Built Environment Summit (18th & 29th October ) and the COP26 global climate conference in Glasgow (1st -12th November) - sets out ten principles for a transition to a fair and sustainable built environment. Specific recommendations address international agreements and commitments, national strategies and roadmaps, financial frameworks, building codes, planning systems, public infrastructure and procurement, voluntary standards, contracts, appointments, and procurement documents, design processes and collaborative approaches, and education and qualifications.
"With nearly 40% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions attributable to buildings and construction, it is imperative that the outcomes from COP26 include robust, ambitious, and extensive action on the built environment. Whatever actions are taken now, average global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the midcentury. Given the scale of existing built environment and the time it takes to transform systems effectively, we need robust interim targets to hit breakthroughs in the coming years and decades'. While it is fair to say that changes to norms, customs, and culture do take time, understanding of human-induced climate change has been developing for several decades. We now stand on the brink of a global breakthrough in climate action."
"This report shows that it is possible for the built environment to operate within planetary limits, and as such all those involved in the sector – including policymakers – can and must take decisive and ambitious action now."
Also published with the report is an Endorser Pack - available at the same link as the report itself, above. RIBA and Architects Declare now seek organisations from across the sector to endorse the report, which trails the Built Environment Summit – a two-day virtual conference on 28 and 29 October that will provide an opportunity for the sector to unite ahead of COP26.
21 September 2021
Architects Declare evidence to Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on the Sustainability of the Built Environment.
Architects Declare submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, and this has now been published on the Committee's website. The inquiry was established to "examine the sustainability of the built environment. It will look at the best routes to net zero for our future building needs from low carbon materials through to policies to minimise the whole life carbon impact of new buildings."
15 September 2021
Architects Declare & ACAN support Insulate Britain campaign
The UK’s housing stock is not fit for the climate emergency we are in, to meet the government’s own legal obligation of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 we must undertake a massive and holistic retrofit of UK homes. This has been advised in numerous reports to the Government and the UK will not meet our climate obligations without updating our buildings. It is with this understanding of the scale and severity of the problem that Architects Declare and the Architects Climate Action Network support the aims of the Insulate Britain Campaign.
According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), emissions from buildings in the UK have fallen by less than 1% per year since 2009. Recent extreme weather events in Britain and all over the world indicate that the long-predicted Climate Emergency is now upon us. Without rapid and far-reaching action to reduce CO2 emissions, there will be even more irreversible damage to the natural world and our ability to live within it. According to the UN Secretary-General, the IPCC’s Working Group 1 Report of August 2021 is ‘a code red for humanity’: "If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses."
Heating our homes currently accounts for 15% of UK CO2 emissions, the vast majority of these homes will still be standing in 2050. To ensure our homes are capable of providing comfortable, affordable and low-carbon dwellings, whole house retrofit including insulation, ventilation and more efficient heating systems must be undertaken. This means that we need to retrofit a million homes a year for the next 29 years – this is possible, but we need to act now.
Upgrading the thermal performance of the UK’s draughty and inefficient homes is an essential part of a wider strategy to decarbonise the UK. This vital work will create tens of thousands of skilled jobs, release hundreds of thousands of people from fuel poverty and protect them from excessive heat as temperatures increase.
We need a national, government-funded programme, led by the built environment industry supporting workers and starting with the most vulnerable in our society. It must have clear objectives, appropriate methodologies and consumer guarantees. This has been necessary for decades and is only getting more urgent. The government’s own Climate Change Committee has stated that this should be “supported by the Treasury as a national infrastructure priority”.
Construction industry professionals have the knowledge, experience, skills and motivation to help make this happen today, but we need our government to support this essential work. They must ensure it is properly funded, effectively administered and that households are supported through the costs and disruption. Decades of inadequate response and botched programmes have led us to the point where we have a daunting task ahead of us but it is not too late to fix our homes and ensure they are the healthy, climate-resilient buildings we need. Insulate Britain are demanding that this low carbon retrofitting programme is rolled out immediately and completed by 2030. We realise that it would take a huge and coordinated commitment of finances and resources from our government to do this; much like (although a lot less expensive than) their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Insulate Britain campaign is highlighting one aspect of the housing crisis in this country, the warnings have been given and the science is clear, we must act now, any more delay is simply irresponsible. The industry is ready, people are in need and the government must show the leadership necessary in this emergency.
The Architects Declare Steering Group
The Architects Climate Action Network Steering Group
 - Insulate Britain
 - BEIS (2021) 2020 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Provisional Figures quoted in The Climate Change Committee's 2021 Progress Report to Parliament
"Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity," said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. "If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success."
 - DECC. Emissions from Heat: Statistical Summary. 1–12 (2012).
13 September 2021
Architects Declare responds to the IPCC Science Report issued today
9 August 2021