Thought Leadership

COP26 - Climate Change from an Architect’s Perspective

As the world’s media gathers to cover the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, we talked to DB3 Architect and Passivhaus Certified Designer Lydia H and this is what we found out.

How can architects influence climate change?

“Buildings consume approximately 40% of all energy produced in the UK, and as the lead designers both of new buildings and the refit of existing buildings, we as architects have a major role to play in the control of CO2 emissions.”

What is DB3 doing to address the climate change crisis?

What is DB3 doing to address the climate change crisis?

We have formed a Sustainability Working Group comprising people like myself who are passionate about combatting climate change.  We are establishing standards and policies for the whole business and promoting training for everyone.  Personally, I have recently become a certified Passive House Designer and another member of the group is currently doing the Passivhaus course. The lessons learnt during the AECB / WARM Passivhaus course will be invaluable tools going forward, and there is a plan to share key aspects of the Passivhaus design principles with the wider business in monthly CPDs.  DB3 have also signed up to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.”

What does the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge entail?

What does the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge entail?

“RIBA Chartered Practices who sign up to the challenge seek to deliver projects which meet a series of targets for operational energy, embodied carbon and potable water use. These targets become gradually more onerous over time with the aim of delivering net zero carbon projects by 2030. Crucially the targets are performance based, not design based. DB3 also commit to providing data on projects measured one year after completion.”

What role can Passivhaus play in reducing CO2 emissions and meeting the Climate Challenge targets?

What role can Passivhaus play in reducing CO2 emissions and meeting the Climate Challenge targets?

“Passivhaus is a standard for the design and construction of comfortable, highly energy efficient buildings with set performance targets. It’s the gold standard and first step towards achieving a net zero operational carbon building.”

What are the principles of Passivhaus?

What are the principles of Passivhaus?

“The broad principle of Passivhaus is to reduce the amount of heat that is lost through the fabric of the building.  This is achieved by a simple building form with a low exposed surface area, high levels of insulation, an extremely airtight building fabric, significantly reduced thermal bridges, high performance triple glazing and efficient background mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR).  This means that for the majority of the year it is possible to maintain a comfortable temperature by only using solar gain and internal heat gain from people, cooking or pets.  All these factors are modelled in the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) which gives an accurate reflection of the energy use in the building.  Also by getting a building Passivhaus Certified there is an assurance that the building that has been delivered is to the same standard as the design.”

What is your personal approach to climate-responsible design?

What is your personal approach to climate-responsible design?

“I’m not the type of architect who tries to use straw bale construction on every project, and at DB3 we see our role as assisting clients along a pathway to net zero carbon using proven design techniques and principles, rather than seeking to impose a particular vision. However we are a group of people that see the impact that humans have had on the climate and believe that designing buildings that use the least amount of energy to build and run is our responsibility as construction professionals.”

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Date Published: 01 November 2021
Tags: climate change, COP26, Environment, sustainability
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DB3 Sustainability

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