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Professional Features

Information and case studies on topics such as net-zero carbon buildings, Passivhaus design and features for new homes to tackle climate change.

08 August 2019

Information and case studies on topics such as net-zero carbon buildings, Passivhaus design and features for new homes to tackle climate change.

The Fishleys Passivhaus, designed by Architype, is a three bedroom detached house built on the site of an old barn within the clients’ Herefordshire garden © Architype

How practices will get to net zero by 2030

Leadership, education and knowledge are key to meeting the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge targets. Architects reveal how they are working towards these goals.

How can we design buildings that are good for both people and the planet?

Wellbeing is integral to sustainability. The three pillars of sustainability, as advocated by the UN, are intended to represent the intersection of environmental, economic and social factors.

As architects strive to achieve challenging technical environmental targets in relation to the climate emergency, the quality of life of a building’s inhabitants cannot be overlooked.

Why buildings are better when clients and engineers collaborate

Working together, architects and engineers can come up with design solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts. Exchanging knowledge and information, especially at the early stages of a project, ultimately leads to better buildings.

The technical input that an engineer can provide is all the more useful when the scale of the challenge to improving building energy efficiency is considered.

Bringing ‘re-use and recycle’ principles into your designs

Most people today are accustomed to recycling the paper, plastic and glass in their domestic waste. But the credo of ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’ is equally applicable to buildings themselves.

Arboreal Architecture’s Reuse Flat is one such project. The practice’s radical renovation of a three bedroom ground-floor apartment was a low-waste project that took careful consideration of its eventual disassembly and the reuse of its materials.

The wall paneling, made from a reclaimed floor, conceals a membrane to increase airtightness and a layer of recycled cotton insulation; © Arboreal Architecture

Convincing clients to go green

For practices that want to provide more low-energy, sustainable design, there are conversations to be had with clients who may not have considered the many advantages of an energy-efficient build.

How hard is it to retrofit a house to zero carbon levels?

It's one thing to design and construct new, exemplary zero-carbon buildings, but quite another to tackle the huge carbon footprint of the existing built environment.

Design essentials for an energy efficient building

There are straightforward measures that architects can implement in their designs in order to reduce a building's carbon footprint. Building on his recent blog, Will South goes into detail about putting such measures into practice.

Does your client know about energy efficiency VAT perks?

There are several exceptions to the standard 20% VAT rate for energy efficiency measures and products, which architects, contractors and their clients may be unaware of.

Five ways house design can help with the climate emergency

Will South is a Director and Engineer at Etude, focused on sustainability in construction. He is also a Passivhaus Certifier and Designer and a member of the RIBA's Sustainable Futures Expert Advisory Group.

In this blog, he outlines simple features that he believes all new houses should implement if architecture is to make a difference in tackling climate change.


Will South, a Director at Etude.

The benefits of becoming a Passive House designer

It has been ten years since the UK’s first Passive House (or Passivhaus) building. Since then, uptake of its ultra-low-energy design approach has increased at around 20% annually, with over 1400 certified Passive House ‘units’ completed to date.

What ‘net zero carbon buildings’ means for practices and developers

The Extinction Rebellion movement’s drawing of an unprecedented amount of mainstream media attention to climate change, and the UK government’s subsequent motion to declare a Climate Emergency have underlined the urgency of addressing carbon emissions.

Design guidance for the climate emergency

Two new documents by the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) provide detailed suggestions and targets that will be helpful - not only to architects, but engineers, policy makers and clients too.

How Architects Climate Action Network Built a coalition for change

From a handful of architects discussing how they might launch a climate-activist group in the summer of 2019, the London-based Architects Climate Action Network has grown into a network with around 200 active members and is in the process of setting up branches internationally.

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