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Architects must be brave if we’re going to bridge the gap

Architects need to come forward and support our campaign, says Hattie Hartman

The initial response to our Bridge the Gap campaign on the building performance gap is encouraging, with the National Energy Foundation (NEF), CIBSE, the CarbonBuzz and several engineers asking how they can support the campaign. NEF’s Kerry Mashford wrote: ‘I support your call for bravery.’ But with the exception of Architype, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Sustainable BY Design and Sofie Pelsmakers, architects have yet to come forward.

You can support our campaign in the following ways: send in stories about the performance of your buildings - the good and less good tales. Talk to your clients and urge them to adopt Soft Landings as a briefing process early in design, offer monitoring and de-bugging the usage of the building after handover as an additional service - you can save your client money if you tackle problems within the warranty period. Upload your projects to CarbonBuzz, to be relaunched at City Hall on 6 June: UCL’s Centre for Energy Epidemiology will be managing the CarbonBuzz platform going forward, curating the data and providing technical support for uploading projects. Engage with building occupants and promote the use of occupant surveys such as the BUS Methodology released this month by Arup.

The AJ Bridge the Gap campaign promotes greater understanding about building performance - what works and doesn’t, and how to close the gap. It all starts with metrics. During last week’s Clerkenwell Design Week, I chaired a panel on ‘measuring impacts.’ The resounding message from Kelly Grainger of Interface and from the American Hardwood Export Council’s (AHEC) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) work is the need for data. drMM’s Endless Stair, a cross-laminated tulipwood sculpture commissioned by AHEC to be installed on the esplanade between St. Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge during the London Design Festival, is underpinned by a thorough investigation of its environmental metrics. More projects should emulate this approach.

This month’s Footprint feature is about metrics: what do we need to measure and how? While obvious to some, metrics are far from common currency in the vocabulary of architecture. The car industry has responded to planetary concerns by producing increasingly efficient cars in recent years. No one wants a gas-guzzler. What about buildings?

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