UK architects declare climate and biodiversity emergency

Some of United Kingdom’s leading architects have created the Architects Declare group calling for action on climate change and biodiversity loss. Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com
Some of United Kingdom’s leading architects have created the Architects Declare group calling for action on climate change and biodiversity loss.
Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com

Some of the United Kingdom’s most influential architects have joined efforts to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. Leading architects, including Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Rogers Stirk Harbour, have united as the group called Architects Declare.

Architects Declare wrote an open letter stating the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are the most serious issues of our time, and buildings and construction account for more than 40 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities, and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly-regenerating, and self-sustaining system,” the open letter said, currently holding 281 signatures.

Architects Declare seeks to:

  • raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst their clients and supply chains;
  • advocate for faster change in the industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher governmental funding priority to support this;
  • establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of the industry’s success demonstrated through awards, prizes, and listings;
  • share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis;
  • evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage clients to adopt this approach;
  • upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon-efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice;
  • include life-cycle costing, whole-life carbon modelling, and post-occupancy evaluation as part of the basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use;
  • adopt more regenerative design principles in the studios, with the aim of designing architecture and urbanism going beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use;
  • collaborate with engineers, contractors, and clients to further reduce construction waste;
  • accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all work;
  • minimize wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.
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