A coalition of architects, engineers and building professionals has produced a Climate Emergency Design Guide, providing a blueprint on how the construction industry can help combat the effects of climate change.
Groups including the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE) have come together to provide a consensus on how to design new buildings in a way that does not jeopardise national emissions targets.
The Climate Emergency Design Guide is published by LETI – the London Energy Transformation Initiative. LETI was established in 2017 to support the transition of the capital’s built environment to net zero carbon, providing guidance that can be applied to the rest of the UK.
It offers guidance for clients, designers and policy-makers to better understand how embodied carbon can be reduced in the design and construction of buildings.
It has been written collectively by more than 100 industry professionals and claims support from thousands more.
“We are in a climate crisis and the construction industry is responsible for 49% of carbon emissions in the UK,” the report opens. “Therefore we must take rapid action to decarbonise the building industry.”
Building new homes to the highest efficient standards is the first step in cutting emissions from housing. The Committee on Climate Change, which advises government, has said that new homes should use much less energy than those currently being built, that in-use performance should be used instead of modelled performance, and that a plan to retrofit the existing building stock is urgently needed. Many of these points are covered in the LETI Climate Emergency Design Guide.
Hywel Davies, technical director of CIBSE, said of the document: “Delivering zero carbon buildings is a huge challenge. LETI has taken a major step to help the industry to work out how this is to be done for new buildings.”
Clara Bagenal George, an associate at Elementa Consulting, who initiated the London Energy Transformations Initiative and was lead editor of the report. She said: “The building industry knows that we should be designing climate-friendly buildings now, but unfortunately only a fraction of new properties are of the standard needed to meet our climate targets. We know how to do it, but without the government showing similar ambition, unfortunately we will drift further from where we need to be. This collective call from all parts of the building industry is a clear and straightforward explainer of what is expected of us and how we can get there.”