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Half of architects say zero carbon 'should be compulsory'

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Nearly 50 per cent of the profession have said that zero carbon standards on all buildings should be made compulsory

According to the sustainability survey carried out by the National Building Specification (NBS), 48 per cent of the architects, consultants, clients and contractors polled demanded tougher green standards and a blanket zero carbon minimum standard.

The research by the body, which is owned by RIBA Enterprises, also found little support for the government’s approach to sustainability.

Just 31 per cent of the industry believed the government was ‘on the right track with sustainability’ and almost half thought it needed to take a stronger lead in terms of ‘green’ building.

More than 80 per cent of architects said they would back increased spending to make existing building stock more sustainable. The respondents said that the sustainability of older buildings could be addressed through reducing the VAT on refurbishment and introducing grants for retrofit.

The support for zero carbon standards comes as the Conservatives announced plans to build 100,000 ‘regulation lite’ starter homes exempt from the long-awaited zero carbon homes standard – a move which was slammed by the industry.

But despite the respondents commitment to zero carbon targets, just 13 per cent said that sustainability targets were ‘always’ achieved on projects – a problem which the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) said was down to cost cutting.

‘Despite what are often the best of intentions at the start of a project, sustainability targets are frequently missed or sacrificed in the name of cost cutting. There is still a major challenge to ensure whole life value is pursued by clients’, said the UK-GBC’s director of policy and communications John Alker.

But failing to hit sustainability targets could also be down to a lack of skills within the industry. Just nine per cent consider themselves ‘extremely confident’ in their knowledge of and skills in sustainable design - a figure which has actually decreased from 12 per cent since the survey was previously completed in 2012.

Commenting on the report, Richard Waterhouse, chief executive of RIBA Enterprises which owns NBS, said: ‘This report is being published at a particularly interesting time as the various political parties make commitments ahead of next year’s election, many of which will impact on our industry. With buildings accounting for around 40 per cent of total energy consumption in the EU, and more if embodied energy is included, we should not underestimate the impact we can have on the sustainability of the way we live.

‘Our survey uncovers deep commitment to improvement, and suggests some ways that we can bring it about. But there is still a great deal of progress to be made if we are to meet our 2050 emissions targets.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Fat lot those pretend architects know about carbon nor weather I guess, once Architecture had an RIBA AA or ILA, now all it has is environmentalism money raking bullying and RIBA needs to seize back its Institute, badly, from the desolating sacrilege. That is why we need Planners and Vision. A teacher of computing made a serious comment you can do more damage dragging a sheet from a dot matrix than losing one jammed sheet of paper and she was a lady too. Even solar panels consume more materials and energy than they save the environment and don't get me started on those stinking windmill atrocities. Design please ! MDS BSc Wales. GCAD Senior Lecturer 1978

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