2030 Climate Challenge resources
The climate emergency is the biggest challenge facing our planet and our profession. But to have a significant impact we need to turn warm words into impactful actions.
This collection of resources from RIBA and our partners is designed to support you in taking the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.
Guidance from the RIBA
Download the introductory guide to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge which includes the targets for operational energy, embodied carbon, and water consumption alongside a detailed checklist of activities for practices to undertake.
The FAQs around the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge will help answer your more immediate questions.
This guide defines a concise measurable set of eight sustainable outcomes that correspond to key UN Sustainable Development Goals and can be delivered on building projects of all scales.
The guide explains each sustainable outcome and their key metrics, and provides design principles to achieve the outcome. It also describes approaches that can be used to verify performance using post occupancy evaluation and certification. The outcomes related to the 2030 Climate Challenge are described in full.
The RIBA Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, constructing, and operating building projects into eight stages. It explains the stage outcomes, core tasks and information exchanges required at each stage.
It includes a sustainability strategy with detailed tasks aligned to the outcomes in the RIBA Sustainable Outcomes Guide.
Plan for Use is the RIBA’s interpretation of the Soft Landings Framework produced by the Usable Buildings Trust and BSRIA. Its aim is to encourage a more outcome-based approach to briefing, design, construction, and handover, both within the architectural profession and (by extension) to the construction industry as a whole. The Plan for Use is embedded within the RIBA Plan of Work 2020.
Articles, information and case studies on topics such as net-zero carbon buildings, Passivhaus design and features for new homes to tackle climate change and meet the 2030 Climate Challenge Targets.
RIBA offers CPD around sustainable architecture, one of the core CPD curriculum topics for RIBA Chartered Members. Find related courses on RIBA Academy.
In-use energy and water performance data of buildings will need to be obtained from the client. To help with this, RIBA has created a guide and template letter to help RIBA Chartered Practices explain what's needed.
We have also developed a guide for clients on the impact of the 2030 Climate Challenge, which RIBA Chartered Practices can share with them.
Guidance from partner organisations
The RIBA has worked with others to support the construction industry in meeting UK’s net zero emissions target. Below are some other useful documents and relevant guidance from partner organisations.
This guidance from LETI, the UKGBC and the BBP sets out the approach to operational carbon that will be necessary to deliver zero carbon buildings. Shared with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, LETI has included operational energy targets that we must meet. By 2030 all new buildings must operate at net zero to meet our climate change targets. This means that by 2025 all new buildings will need to be designed to meet these targets. We therefore have five years to do it progressively so that it becomes the norm in 2025. We should start now.
Following the release of the Embodied Carbon Primer in 2020 (see below), LETI has consulted with industry groups, including the RIBA, CIBSE, IStructE, the GLA and the Whole Life Carbon Network to ensure alignment of definitions, scopes, measurement methodologies and targets.
The one pager summaries introduce the concepts of embodied carbon and whole life carbon, as well as the industry standards that govern our measurement of the metrics. In addition, they set out key principles to reducing built environment carbon emissions through strategic project and design initiatives.
There remains significant inconsistency with respect to the basic definitions in use with reference to carbon and net zero carbon terminologies over the life cycle of buildings and infrastructure. This document provides a common set of definitions. It has been put together by a working group within the Whole Life Carbon Network (WLCN), a group of some 90 built environment professionals with additional support from LETI and the RIBA.
This document sets out an embodied carbon rating system that can be used to track the urgent performance improvements needed from now until 2030. It relates the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets to the rating scheme. It comes with a set of reporting templates to ensure consistent reporting scopes are used. This alignment document outlines total embodied carbon targets, as well as upfront carbon targets.
The Climate Emergency Design Guide covers five key areas: operational energy, embodied carbon, the future of heat, demand response and data disclosure. The methodology includes setting the requirements of four key building archetypes (small scale residential, medium/large scale residential, commercial offices, and schools).
LETI Embodied Carbon Primer (2020)
This document is intended to provide designers including architects, engineers, interior designers, and urban designers with easy to follow best practice and toolkits for reducing embodied carbon in buildings.
The document can also aid planners to be aware of strategies available to designers to reduce embodied carbon in building design, and how planning recommendations on materials, massing, and treatment of sites may affect embodied carbon.
Climate Framework (2021)
The RIBA supports the Climate Framework, a cross-disciplinary initiative that unites the building industry and academia for climate action and aims to create the knowledge base from which to consistently and continuously upskill the entire built environment sector.
Selected resources have been reviewed and gathered in a curated library. These cover existing content developed by expert individuals and organisations across the international building and construction industry, as well as academics, governmental and non-governmental bodies.
The RIBA supports the UK Green Building Council net zero carbon buildings definition and associated guidance as part of the UKGBC advancing net zero programme.
Tools and networks
These useful tools and networks can support your work towards the 2030 Climate Challenge targets.
Architects Declare is a network of architectural practices committed to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency. Architects Declare originated by architects Steve Tompkins and Michael Pawlyn, and was launched on 30 May 2019 by the then 17 UK recipients of the Stirling Prize. It quickly attracted hundreds of other architectural practices from across the UK.
ACAN is a network of individuals within architecture and related built environment professions taking action to address the twin crises of climate and ecological breakdown.
Wood Knowledge Wales champion the development of wood-based industries for increased prosperity and wellbeing in Wales. This checklist on building performance evaluation outlines core techniques, the stages in which they can be applied, and what performance objectives they help support.
The Green Construction Board was asked to respond to the 2030 Buildings Energy Mission currently led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Free embodied carbon calculators
From Hawkins Brown this is an open source Revit-based tool that enables design teams to quickly analyse and clearly visualise the embodied carbon emissions of different building components and construction material options at any time during the design process.
This whole life carbon review tool from FCB Studios is designed to estimate the whole life carbon of a building to inform design decisions prior to detailed design. This makes potential carbon impacts clear to the client, architect and the whole design team from the outset of the design process.
Using benchmarked data from the ICE Database and EPDs, the tool is designed to give the design team insight into the whole life carbon impact of a building from the very outset of a project and is aligned with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets.
This tool is based on the IStructE guide How to calculate embodied carbon, which should be consulted for more information on the calculation process.
When you have downloaded the tool, watch the recordings from the launch event for an overview of how to get started.
This embodied carbon calculator gives a valuable insight at the very early stages of the design process allowing you to discover how the embodied carbon of your designs is affected by material choice and also how your building compares to the RIBA 2030 targets.