Managing Editor James Parker

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t is a strange world where a shift in the national focus from Brexit, accompanied by a sense of post- postponement fatigue, to an increasingly fervent sense of urgency on climate change, is something that feels refreshing. However, led by its train-travelling poster girl Greta Thunberg telling it like it is to UK politicians, the sense of momentum to try and limit the damage is palpable.


With good timing, following the well-attended Extinction Rebellion protests and Thunberg’s news-grabbing visit, the Government’s climate watchdog the Committee on Climate Change has made an unequivocal statement. It says the UK should write a net zero emissions goal for 2050 into law, thus enabling us to fully meet our obligations within the Paris Agreement.

While the CCC thinks the increase in cost that would result need only be 1-2 per cent of GDP per year, it admits that a much tougher policy approach would be needed from Government, including a bigger focus on construction’s contribution. “Current policy is insufficient for even the existing targets,” the CCC warned, adding that a net zero greenhouse gases target of 2050 “will only be deliverable with a major strengthening and acceleration of policy effort.”

As so often heard, but rarely more needing proper understanding, a joined up approach plus a sense of urgency would be essential, the CCC says. “Challenges across sectors must be tackled vigorously, and in tandem.”

The big problem is that we have made strides in renewable generation, waste processing and industry, but homes, transport and farming still have a long way to go. In February this year, and purely based on the measures it was counting, residential loft, cavity and solid wall insulations were way below CCC targets. Only ‘low carbon heat’ was beating the target, excluding heat pump installations which were just above half of what was required.

The bigger picture is that while thousands may go vegan and fly less, the construction sector has a disproportionately high carbon take. Including construction and emissions in use, it’s been estimated that

buildings make up around half of the UK’s total CO2. Therefore they are the biggest problem to fix, but the sheer size of the task shouldn’t be an excuse for apathy.

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Why are clients still able to leave all the lights on in already energy-hungry giant glass buildings? Is it not possible for sustainability certification such as BREEAM to be made a legal requirement in certain sectors, rather than left to enlightened clients? And why were such blatantly good ideas as the Code for Sustainable Homes left by the wayside, particularly when they are still used as best practice by architects and clients?

Luckily the design profession – such as practices like Bennetts Associates – are continuing to carry the (LED) torch of driving sustainability. That means not only holding project teams to the task of minimising buildings’ energy output, but also doing everything possible to lower the business’ own carbon footprint.

James Parker Editor


ON THE COVER... Whitworth Locke is a high-end 160-room hotel in Manchester which connects three Victorian buildings, stripped back to reveal their original charm.

WHITWORTH LOCKE, MANCHESTER Revealing neglected Victorian charm in the creation of a colourfully quirky boutique hotel

BICESTER ECO BUSINESS CENTRE Architype delivers on a client’s sustainable goals

For the full report on this project, go to page 31 Cover image © Grzywinski+Pons


ADF MAY 2019

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