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RIBA and partners rally for student climate literacy

A new free-to-access online training programme to help UK architecture students address the climate emergency is available now.

17 November 2023

Design Performance for Climate Action has been developed to equip architecture students across the UK with a solid foundation in climate-responsive building design. 

The new online, self-study programme has been developed collaboratively by experienced Passivhaus training provider Coaction Training CIC and the Passivhaus Trust, alongside the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Standing Conference of Schools of Architecture (SCOSA), and the International Passivhaus Association (iPHA).  

It aims to empower architecture students with the knowledge and skills to design high-performance buildings by critically examining the Passivhaus standard – a proven whole-building approach to reducing building energy use and delivering high standards for comfort and occupant health.  

It explores its strengths and limitations over four modules, two of which cover the principles of building design for optimal performance, while the remaining two delve into the specifics of construction and services design. 

Tailored to support existing architecture teaching in UK Schools of Architecture, the course addresses priority areas in the emerging RIBA Climate Knowledge Literacy schedule and the Architects Registration Board (ARB) Competencies that form the backbone of the curriculum.  

The course materials are available to all UK Schools of Architecture students on an open-access basis and consist of online self-study modules. The partners’ ambition for the course is to expand opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates in future years, including during studio practice. 

Jenny Russell, Director of Education and Learning at RIBA, said: 

“Climate literacy among architects is fundamental to delivering a low-carbon future and we are committed to ensuring that the next generation have the knowledge and skills they need. This important initiative will provide schools with resources to ensure that each and every architecture student enters the profession with a firm grounding in the principles of climate-responsive design.” 

Sarah Lewis, Research and Policy Director at the Passivhaus Trust, said: 

“This course is responding to a direct demand from industry for more climate conscious architects. We are excited to be upscaling Passivhaus education in universities so that when architecture students graduate, they hit the ground running, embedding these skills in the practices where they work to have an immediate impact on the delivery of sustainable buildings in the UK.” 

Sally Godber, Director of WARM: Low Energy Practice and Coaction Training CIC, said: 

“This is a huge opportunity for architects at the very start of their practice to gain access to Coaction’s community of trainers - each bringing their long-standing experience and expertise within the Passivhaus industry.”  

Lorraine Farrelly, Chair of SCOSA, said: 

“It is essential that all architecture students have access to tools that can support in their learning to develop sustainable approaches to designing buildings. This initiative, funded by SCOSA and other partners will ensure our students can have an understanding of Passivhaus principles to inform their approach to sustainable design.”  

Notes to editors: 

  1. See images and social media assets here
  2. Media contact:  
  3. For questions and information requests, please contact Bex King, Communications Manager at Coaction Training CIC, 
  4. We are looking for supporters to help us widen this programme further and empower the next generation of climate responsible architects to deliver a low-carbon future. If you’re interested in being part of the change or want to find out more about the project, contact or visit Coaction
  5. The Design Performance for Climate Action course provides essential learning for students who can continue developing their knowledge through RIBA’s Passivhaus CPD modules.  
  6. The free-to-access RIBA Passivhaus Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work provides guidance on implementing Passivhaus design through each RIBA Plan of Work Stage to enable informed decision making at the right time and order, for clients and project teams to deliver Passivhaus certified projects. 
  7. Find out more about the RIBA Climate Knowledge Literacy schedule. 
  8. Find out more about the ARB Competencies

The Design Performance for Climate Action programme is possible thanks to financial support from its project partners: 

  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates. 
  • The Passivhaus Trust (PHT) is an independent industry leading organisation that promotes the adoption of Passivhaus in the UK. PHT is part of the global Passivhaus movement and the official UK affiliate of the International Passive House Association (iPHA). 
  • Coaction Training CIC. With over 12 years of experience in delivering quality Passivhaus training (previously under the CarbonLite banner), Coaction Training CIC was launched in 2022, an independent and not-for-profit organisation driving upskilling for low-energy building in the construction industry. 
  • The Standing Conference of Schools of Architecture (SCOSA) is an organisation whose members include all 56 UK recognised Schools of Architecture. 
  • The International Passive House Association (iPHA) is a global network of Passive House stakeholders including architects, planners, scientists, suppliers, manufacturers, policymakers, contractors, property developers and more. It works to promote the Passive House Standard and foster a greater public understanding of highly energy efficient buildings. 

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