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Built for the Environment report

This global report, produced by RIBA in partnership with Architects Declare, makes the case that the built environment must drastically reduce its carbon emissions to work towards net zero.

Today 38% of global energy related greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the built environment. Our latest report, Built for the Environment, demonstrates the role the industry is playing – and must play – in tackling the climate emergency.

The report, produced in partnership with Architects Declare, brings together a cross-section of research and publications submitted by the built environment sector. Using this evidence and ahead of COP26, the report urges governments to take urgent action, set more ambitious targets and building codes, and embed sustainability within planning systems.

However, we cannot tackle global climate and biodiversity emergencies without changing the way we design and construct buildings. Built for the Environment makes a collective call to the entire built environment sector to embed, replicate and scale up sustainable best practice design that considers the needs of future generations.

The Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, by MASS Design Group and Arup, for the Howard G Buffet Foundation

Recommendations in the Built for the Environment report

Governments to ensure environmental targets are science-based and fair

This means reporting greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis, and including built environment actions and all sources of emissions within net zero plans (including Nationally Determined Contributions).

Governments to shift focus onto reducing absolute emissions

As opposed to reductions per square meter of building area, or per person. Greenwashing or reliance on large offsets will not help us meet our collective goals.

Governments must both mitigate and adapt to the climate and biodiversity emergencies

Nature-based solutions and traditional ecological knowledge, wisdom and technologies are central to both.

Those operating within the built environment to actively adapt practice

From breaking down silos between disciplines and competencies, to communicating and sharing information, to shifting cultural ideas of beauty and design, the entire sector must adapt.

Information to be openly and widely shared

This is to enable collaboration and transparent decision-making. This includes information around land, buildings, ecosystems, and infrastructure, as well as knowledge and skills.

Social justice to remain at the heart of all action

This means involving those impacted by change in decision-making, and together designing social policies to facilitate a transition to a fair and sustainable built environment, taking steps to ensure unintended negative consequences are addressed quickly and fairly.

Read the full report below.

Endorse this report

We encourage you to endorse this report if you agree with the recommendations it makes to both the built environment sector and to governments across the globe.

Endorse the report now.

Download the endorsers pack to find out more and use these media assets to share this report with your networks.

On 28 to 29 October 2021 RIBA and Architects Declare hosts the Built Environment Summit: a global conference addressing the themes from the report.

The summit is a call to action, bringing together professionals from across the international built environment sector to address the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, of which the industry contributes almost 40% globally.

Buy tickets for the Built Environment Summit.

To ensure architects are on the trajectory to net zero, we're also encouraging all RIBA Chartered Practices to join our 2030 Climate Challenge, which sets a series of targets for embodied carbon, operational energy and water use.

Find out more and attempt the goals today.

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