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Energy needs to be higher priority

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Paul Hyett's column manages in a refreshing way to remind us that the architectural practice is rooted in ethics. His summary of the Edge Debate (aj 16.7.98) touches upon the responsibility of the riba towards global warming. As a professional body the riba and its committees cannot avoid facing up to the environmental challenge. Those of us on the riba Environment & Energy Group are pushing hard for a code change to establish 'sustainable design' as a mainstay of practice. Unfortunately, practice and ethics do not always see eye to eye.

What the Edge Debate seems to suggest is that the bre-inspired low-energy design campaigns have aimed at the wrong target. Saving energy is usually low on the priorities of companies (look at company carpolicy), while improving productivity is high. Low-energy design leads to healthy building and people who work in them are generally better motivated and more productive. If we switched targets we might achieve more for energy efficiency.

PROFESSOR BRIAN EDWARDS

University of Huddersfield

Member riba Energy & Environment Group

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