The number of high-performance, low carbon buildings must increase six-fold by 2030 if we are to meet targets for zero carbon. This is one of the topics being discussed at the World Architecture Forum (WAF) next week and we’ll be there to share the benefit of Hilson Moran’s long track record in environmentally progressive buildings and infrastructure.
The challenge of increasing by six-fold is a big one, and means zero energy, zero emission new buildings as a global standard and the reduction of energy usage and emissions in our existing stock. It also requires a significant shake up in design, management and operational behaviours if we are to succeed.
The backing from government varies considerably from country to country, however, the rise of public opinion and organisations, such as ‘climate rebellion’, devoted to safeguarding our planet for future generations has definitely put the pressure on and is holding governments and local municipalities to account.
We are seeing the effect this is having across Europe, with policy change now taking place and the allocation of more funding being directed to achieve zero carbon goals. Norway, for instance, has a hydro power grid that is near zero carbon and government incentives exist for selling spare energy back to the grid.
In the UK, while we are not the best at creating innovative climate change policy, we are also not the worst. The next set of legislation documents will be telling, and the UK does have an opportunity to set a new benchmark, especially with an election looming and the world watching. We must hope that whoever is in power after the coming general election grabs the opportunity to make a difference by the horns!
We have the tools at our disposal. An educated built environment industry and a wide range of engineering optimisation computer modelling tools that test and help optimise innovative design approaches. Even at a masterplanning level, we have developed an early stage evaluation tool, called the ‘Healthy Cities Assessment Tool’ (H-City).
From our experience, we know that zero energy/zero carbon design is achievable. That said, as engineers and designers, we need legislation in place to drive progress and help us deliver the outcome we need. You only need look at the likes of the London Plan, which made a massive difference to how we design our buildings in London as part of a rigorous planning process, to see the power of good legislation and guidance.
Let’s hope that WAF helps us continue the conversation about such an important issue. And if you’d like to meet up with Matt Kitson from our team, get in touch.