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Goldsmith Street, Mikhail Riches, winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019 © Tim Crocker

RIBA Smart Practice Conference 2020: Confronting the Climate Emergency

This year's two day Smart Practice Conference, Confronting the Climate Challenge, aims to provide you with the knowledge, tools and resources to meet the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets and position your practice at the forefront of the green recovery.

View the full programme (PDF).

If there is one positive legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, it is the understanding that fast and radical change is possible when societies are faced with a clear and imminent threat. The global climate emergency requires no less radical and profound action for change. As countries around the world are finding their way to a ‘new normal’, the climate agenda has to play an integral role in shaping an environmentally and socially resilient built environment.

Architects have a responsibility and an opportunity to take a leading role in addressing the climate crisis and implement net zero strategies now in order to achieve the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets. We need to re-think approaches to design and collaboration, adopt performance-based targets and gain a deeper understanding of whole-life impacts.

The 2020 RIBA Smart Practice Conference: Confronting the Climate Emergency will introduce participants to key concepts and tools for assessing the impact of design and material choices, showcase best practice and pioneering approaches, and support practices seeking to position themselves at the forefront of the green recovery.

Wednesday 30 September

Virtual Conference Day 1 (1pm to 6pm)

Welcome Jo Bacon, Partner, Allies and Morrison, RIBA board member and Head of Awards

Keynote Evelyn Choy, Architects Climate Action Network

Introducing the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge Principal, Regional Leader of Science and Technology, HOK London Studio

Understanding Net Zero Karl Desai, Senior Advisor – Advancing Net Zero, UKGBC

Beyond Carbon Maria Smith, Head of Sustainability, Buro Happold

Retrofitting (Sub)urbia

Principles of Residential Retrofit Marion Baeli, Partner, PDP London

Making Retrofit Work for Residents: Energiesprong Pilot Nottingham Richard Partington, Founding Director, Studio Partington

Does Passivhaus limit creativity? Debunking common misconceptions Justin Bere, Director, bere:architects

Material Explorations Fergus Feilden, Director, Feilden Fowles

Moving Towards the Circular Economy

Introducing a Cradle to Cradle approach Marco Abdallah, Head of Engineering UK, Drees & Sommer

Applying CE thinking at The Brussels World Trade Centre Michael Moradiellos del Molino, WTC/ZIN project lead, Drees & Sommer and Johan Anrys, Partner, 51N4E architects

Virtual Speed Mentoring (7pm to 8.15pm)

A sustainability speed mentoring follows the conference online, where you will be afforded the opportunity to pair up with highly respected mentors for three 20 minute one-on-one conversations. View the confirmed list of mentors for both days.

Thursday 1 October

Virtual Conference Day 2 (1pm to 6pm)

Welcome Alan Jones, RIBA President

Keynote Anders Lendager, CEO, Lendager Group

How to Talk to Your Client about Sustainable Outcomes

Sustainability by Stealth Ruth Butler, Director, Ruth Butler Architects

The Power of Storytelling Julia Skeete, Associate Director, SOM

Learning from Clients Moderated panel discussion. John Davies, Head of Sustainability, Derwent London, Jane Wakiwaka, Sustainability Manager, Crown Estate

Marketing your Sustainability Credentials as a Small Practice Tara Gbolade, Co-founder, Gbolade Design Studio and Clare Nash, Director, Clare Nash Architecture

Understanding Whole-life Carbon

Optimising Structures in the Design Process Andrew Wylie, Partner, Buro Happold

Interrogating the WLC Impact of Your Project Introduction and interactive exercise led by Dr. Joe Jack Williams, Associate, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, and Louisa Bowles, Partner, Hawkins\Brown

Learning from Projects: Goldsmith Street James Turner, Associate, Mikhail Riches

Transforming Your Practice Short intro by Lucy Carmichael, RIBA Director of Practice

Understanding your Impact and Identifying Quick Wins Diana Dina, Head of Sustainability & Regenerative Design, Haworth Tompkins

Your Studio Your Laboratory Paul Bulkeley, Director, Snug Architects

Introducing a Roadmap for Change Authors: Ian Taylor, Managing Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios; Mina Hasman, Associate, SOM; Alasdair Dixon, Partner, Collective Works. Presenter: Alasdair Dixon

How Can You Transform Your Practice? Discuss in online break-out groups what delegates can do to transform their own practice, using the roadmap as guidance

Virtual Speed Mentoring (7pm to 8.15pm)

A sustainability speed mentoring follows the conference online, where you will be afforded the opportunity to pair up with highly respected mentors for three 20 minute one-on-one conversations. View the confirmed list of mentors for both days.

Ticket prices

  • RIBA Member 1 Day (30 September or 1 October): £25
  • RIBA Member 2 Days: £40
  • Non Member 1 Day (30 September or 1 October): £35
  • Non Member 2 Days: £55
  • Student 1 Day (30 September or 1 October): £15
  • Student 2 Days: £20

A hardship ticket option is available for RIBA Members who are struggling in the current economic climate. Tickets are priced at the student rate. Please email to access the discounted ticket.

What is the Smart Practice Conference?

The RIBA’s annual national conference for practitioners, Smart Practice has a forward-looking, strategic focus. It is designed to appeal to architects working in practices of different scales across sectors.

The intention is to provide a highly informative and insightful day. The conference aspires to give practitioners the headspace, the fuel and the ideas for moving things on and continual improvement – at the project and the practice level.

This year both days will be held online. You will receive a link to watch the event one day before the event is due to begin and again at 10am on the day of the event.

This conference is RIBA CPD Certified and each day is worth 4 hours of structured CPD.


Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?
For all enquiries please contact

Will the event be recorded?
Yes, the event will be recorded. If you choose to share your video or audio during the event you consent to being recorded.

What is the refund policy?
Refunds will be given up to 7 days before the event (23 September 2020).

Can I change the day I want to attend?
Yes, you can edit the day via Eventbrite. Please do not edit the day after Sunday 27 September. Please email for any last minutes changes.

What is your privacy policy?
The details you provide will be processed in line with the RIBA's GDPR obligations. For information on how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Policy on

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