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8 NEWS CLIMATE CHANGE


Assael becomes first architectural practice to join UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative


Assael Architecture has become the first practice in the UK to sign up to the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative, binding the studio to measure, reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions going forward. As a signatory of the UN-backed initiative, Assael Architecture must calculate and disclose the practice’s current carbon footprint, including international air travel, and show a “clear pathway” to reducing it year on year. The practice has set a target to be operationally carbon neutral from late 2019.


The current carbon emissions of the practice are then offset financially using UN certified emission reductions (CERs), where Assael Architecture can choose specific projects to support. The project that Assael has pledged to support through the CERs programme is the creation of a hydroelectric power station in Chile, South America. The UN-certified CERs are carbon credits generated by climate-friendly projects vetted by the UN following rules approved at intergovernmental level and with international oversight, providing a high level of credibility to the offsetting regime. To help bolster the practice’s fight against climate change domestically, Assael has been rolling out a range of initiatives internally to help curb their emissions. These include achieving and maintaining the IS014001 certification, supporting staff cycling schemes, encouraging international video conferencing over international flights and extending the audience of their annual Green Week, where industry leaders gather at the Assael offices to discuss sustainability.


RESIDENTIAL


Baca Architects achieves planning consent for Christchurch resi project


With flood risk being the primary danger to waterfront homes across the UK, Baca Architects has won the go-ahead for two new houses on Christchurch waterfront in a decision that not only “reflects the firm’s exemplary approach to flood resilient design,” said the firm, “but also overcomes an inherent flaw in national planning policy on building within floodplains.” The houses feature “the latest in sustainable architecture,” said the firm. Manufactured offsite, these highly insulated homes are designed to have low carbon footprints and quick assembly. The interiors, said the firm, will be “bathed in sunlight” and generous balconies will provide shade to full-height glazed windows that afford panoramic views out over the estuary. All bedrooms are located above ground level while the living room, kitchen and dining room are approximately 2.5 feet above the external ground level and outside the flood plain. All electrical services will be brought in from the first floor and all electrical sockets will be raised. Windows and doors will allow water control and safe egress at multiple locations around the building. In the event of a flood, and should water enter


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the ground floor, the internal construction is designed to be resilient to water and to enable effective cleaning and fast recovery. BACA said the scheme – the first of its kind under the recent changes to National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – “challenged the effective prohibition on homeowners, developers and local authorities to re-build innovatively and safely on sites where pre-existing housing stock had already suffered, or was likely to suffer, flooding.” The site is currently designated an area of low flooding risk but is calculated to progress to one of high risk over the next 100 years, and the client wished to replace two dilapidated bungalows with two flood-resilient homes. While the proposal offered significant


improvements in terms of safety onsite, improved onsite drainage and no net increase of development in the flood plain, the project ran into a major obstacle due to changes to the NPPF in 2018, explained the architects. “These aimed to put an end to new waterfront housing developments but in doing so also posed a direct problem for owners of existing waterfront or flood plain homes seeking to protect their properties.”


ADF NOVEMBER 2019


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