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Architects face extinction, says UK-GBC head

The head of the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has warned that architects could be ‘facing extinction’ unless dramatic changes are made in the industry to combat climate change.

Speaking to industry leaders at the AJ100 Breakfast Club last week, UK-GBC chief executive Paul King (pictured) said engineers are increasingly leading the way in how the construction industry should tackle the threat of global warming.

He said: ‘There is an increasing emphasis on energy efficiency performance in buildings, and at the moment it seems to be engineers at the forefront of designing and delivering solutions.

‘Architects still seem to be very focused on style and abstraction, particularly in the most high-profile practices.’

King added that in the US, LEED Platinum-rated buildings (equivalent to BREEAM Excellent-rated) are the few buildings bucking the trend as property prices fall and clients see the value of energy-efficient buildings.

King said: ‘Architects need to ask themselves, do they want to be on the front foot and factor this into their design or wait and be led by the client?’

Alan Shingler, partner and head of sustainability at Sheppard Robson, agrees in part with King, adding architects are ‘in danger’ of losing a foothold in what is ‘an exceptionally important topic’.

‘But engineers can lack the visionary skills needed at the earlier stages of a project. There needs to be greater collaboration,’ said Shingler.

‘There is a threat that more responsibility is being taken away from architects. We’re in danger of losing critical skills needed to really understand climate change.’

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