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AD joins call for Embodied Carbon Regulation in the UK

Leading construction industry and built environment experts from 11 organisations - including UK Architects Declare as part of the Built Environment Declares family - have today called for policy action in this election year.

UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Industry Council (CIC), Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), Built Environment Declares, RIBA, RICS, Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), and Part Z and have joined forces to send a consistent message to UK political party leaders about the urgent need for regulation of embodied carbon emissions in construction.

They assert that this is necessary as buildings and construction form a substantial part of UK carbon emissions, which are a main driver of climate change. UK policy has stalled, and urgent action is needed.

The group of experts has issued a paper to political leaders with a key ask: to include in their manifestos a commitment to move to reduce embodied carbon emissions in construction within two years of starting government.

Additionally, the experts list specific steps for action:

  • In 2024: Policy signalled confirming the dates and interventions below.
  • By 2026: Mandate the measurement and reporting of whole-life carbon emissions for all projects with a gross internal area of more than 1000m2 or that create more than 10 dwellings.
  • By 2028: Introduce legal limits on the upfront embodied carbon emissions [those emissions due to the use of materials in the initial construction] of such projects, with a view to future revision and tightening as required.

The group says these actions are essential as around 1 in 10 tonnes of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are “embodied carbon” emissions. These relate to the production and use of construction materials, which account for a substantial part of the UK’s overall carbon emissions.

You can view the one-page Position Paper here on the Institution of Structural Engineers website.

Embodied Carbon Regulation Position Paper Supporters

31 January 2024

: Government

AD Comment on Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Appointment as Secretary of State for BEIS

The Architects' Journal recently approached Architects Declare for a comment on the choice of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the new government. The AD Steering Group agreed the following text:

"To appoint Jacob Rees-Mogg, a climate sceptic, to head up the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department at this time of increasing planetary emergency, is ‘dangerous, radical’ madness. He has voted 16 times out of 16 times against climate bills, talks of squeezing ‘every last cubic inch of gas’ from the North Sea despite advice that it will do nothing to ease prices for consumers and has spoken against the net zero targets.

"We have to agree with Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, when he said recently: ‘Climate activists are sometimes called dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of Fossil Fuels’.

"Is the UK about to become a ‘dangerous radical’?

"We can only hope that Alok Sharma’s continued role as COP26 president, Graham Start’s appointment as Minister for Climate Change, Chris Skidmore, Zac Goldsmith and other ‘turquoise Tories’ can counter the worst of Rees-Mogg’s influence.

"He needs to wake up to the fact that over 80% of Tory voters support renewables, solar, offshore and on-shore wind."

The AJ published their piece on 12th September.

13 September 2022

: Government

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

: Government

RIBA and Architects Declare launch open call for climate action research

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Declare have launched an open call for research to present at the inaugural Built Environment Summit and to form accompanying report, which will be presented to global leaders at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Co-hosted by RIBA and Architects Declare, the Built Environment Summit (BESt) will take place in London from 28-29 October 2021. The summit will share examples of innovative practice and explore ways to harness political support to decarbonise the built environment, ahead of COP26.

The open call seeks evidence, research, and exemplar projects (built or un-built) under the following themes:

1. The significance of the built environment – research that demonstrates the social and economic benefits of sustainable buildings.

2. The environmental footprint of the built environment – analysis on the current environmental impact of buildings.

3. How to affect change in the built environment – research on the cultural, economic, and industry landscapes affecting the built environment.

4. The built environment industry’s capabilities – examples of innovative technologies and methodologies.

5. The industry is committed to change – initiatives and educational reforms that demonstrate commitment to climate action.

6. The industry needs Government support to change – evidence that shows the benefits of environmental regulation.

The deadline for these submissions is 14 June. More detailed information about all these categories can be found on the RIBA website here as well as an opportunity to register your interest in attending the Built Environment Summit in October.

Alongside the call for research, the RIBA and Architects Declare also invite Expressions of Interest to sit on the BESt Expert Advisory Panel. The Panel will support the selection of contributors and curation of the conference. Please apply by June 1 using this link

Planning for the Future Consultation

Architects Declare have responded to the Planning for the Future Consultation.

View our response here

Government response to Construction Declares Open Letter

Architects Declare has received a reply to our Letter to Government from the Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We have continued the dialogue with the Minister in a detailed response, and again offered to arrange a meeting to discuss how we can support and collaborate with the government on the action required.

3 September 2020

: Government

Architects Declare statement on A New Deal for Britain

A green recovery is supported by the vast majority of the British population but today’s speech by the Prime Minister falls woefully short of what is required to stay within 1.5C of global heating. While we welcome investment that reduces inequality and improves health, it should be noted that even the president of the Automobile Association questions further road building now that millions of people have got used to home-working. It is reported that the Government proposes to spend £100 million on building roads - 10 times what is earmarked for rail – and this is clearly moving in the opposite direction. We support investment in public transport and renewable energy infrastructure and other measures to radically reduce our carbon emissions

The speech lacked specific commitments and made no clear reference to the £9.2bn Conservative manifesto pledge for renovating Britain’s draughty and unhealthy homes – this would create jobs, reduce fuel poverty, and help to meet legislated carbon targets. It is essential that this is given high priority. As leading construction professionals, we are ready and waiting to offer the practical expertise to deliver this and the necessary zero carbon buildings programme.

On the basis of this speech, the UK Government is failing to rise to the challenge of the climate emergency at the very time it should be showing global leadership in the build-up to the COP26 climate summit.

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