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Interview with Simon Allford on reaching net zero carbon

Interview with Simon Allford on reaching net zero carbon

Building Magazine launched their Building Talks: Net Zero podcast series this week.

The first person to be interviewed was Simon Allford, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President, where he speaks with optimism, yet realism, regarding the role of architecture and construction in reaching a target of net zero carbon.

With the UK government’s recent publication of its long-awaited Heat and Building Strategy and Net Zero Strategy, along with the COP26 Climate Change Conference just days away, the issues discussed on the podcast could not be more pressing and relevant.

We took a listen to the podcast interview and took note of his key points.

The role of individual architects

Simon Allford states that each individual architect can play a role in targeting net zero carbon emissions by engaging with clients and contractors and explaining, influencing, and sharing the common goal with them. This way architects, together with the construction industry, can be part of the drive and solution to reducing the carbon footprint in the UK, and globally.

The value of buildings in the future

According to the RIBA President, buildings will have little value in the long term if they are not built with environmental factors and the carbon agenda in mind. It’s key to consider the carbon footprint of every material that we use and take steps to continually improve, while recognising that the materials we use are changing all the time. Although it is currently unrealistic to stop using concrete altogether, he said we must be persistent in reducing its use and finding alternatives.

Share the failures, not just the successes

However against the grain this may feel, Mr. Allford encourages the sharing of data and projects that have gone wrong with industry peers. By sharing the failures, not just the success stories, everyone gets to learn and improve together.

Every building project can be ‘retrofit’ of sorts

In the podcast, Simon Allford was questioned about whether we should be building new builds at all. He was very clear in his answer. He said that every building project could be approached as a retrofit, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t build new buildings.

When looking at a site, every architect, client, builder, and contractor should consider the site’s existing infrastructure, like the sewers, and structures, to gauge what can be re-used or recycled. Every build should fulfill a mantra of long-life and broad use.

How to best serve this and future generations

We thought Simon Allford listed off some basic essentials on how to approach each and every build. Think about how you:

  • improve what you are doing
  • use less
  • reduce waste
  • minimise how you make the build
  • ensure the build is appropriate for use

 

Call for regulatory support from government

Simon Allford ended his interview by saying we needed more regulatory support from government to help set targets and drive the construction industry towards net zero.

We look forward to the next podcast next week.

Listen to the full interview

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