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RIBA gets tough on sustainability

The profession must rise to the challenge of climate change and alter its building practices to meet the needs of the future or face charges of liability in years to come, the RIBA has warned. The call to arms comes as industry leaders meet in Johannesburg to contribute to the Earth Summit discussions.

RIBA president Paul Hyett, who is addressing the first meeting of the Global Alliance of Buildings Sustainability today (see page 16), told the AJ he would be pushing moves to force architects to embrace environmentally responsible design.

Hyett hopes to implement stricter rules governing CPD, making sustainability a compulsory 50 per cent component. He will also be pushing the institute to require members to reapply for RIBA recognition every five years, reliant on an adequate CPD record. At present, architects are obliged to complete 35 hours of CPD seminars per year, but the rules are not prescriptive about the contents of courses undertaken. The move would also tighten up the institute's monitoring of compliance.

Hyett said: 'Ecologically responsible design is crucial to the well-being of humans on this planet.

Architects must develop their awareness and keep up to date in terms of what they are offering the market place. We should be leading in the field, encouraging the public and the rest of the professions to better achievement.'

Architects should be keeping abreast with initiatives such as wing roofs that drive passive rather than artificial ventilation, and intelligent lighting systems that respond to the movement of the buildings occupants, he said. All new buildings should fit the definition of 'sustainable' - constructed and used in a way that will not have an adverse effect on the future.

President-elect George Ferguson and vicepresident for sustainable development Peter Smith supported Hyett in his rallying call.

Smith said: 'The housing we are building now is going to be here when we are facing extreme conditions in 2050.We need to have CPD that pushes architects to go well ahead of the regulations.'

From 2007, the accessibility of fossil fuels will begin to be affected and buildings will need to be powered by alternative means, he added. Architects could find themselves facing liability suits from clients, if their designs do not live up to the needs of the future.

Smith anticipated some resistance from the profession, but said it should consider the tightening up of CPD rules as an opportunity to revise its practice, rather than as a burden.

Hyett will be taking his proposals to the RIBA council for consideration.

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