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RIBA Smart Practice Conference 2021: Stepping up to the Climate Challenge

The 2021 Smart Practice Conference will offer inspiration and a wealth of practical insights for practitioners looking to step up to the climate challenge

As we emerge from lockdown, our undivided attention returns to the defining challenge of our time - the climate and biodiversity crisis associated with the extractive and polluting nature of much of our economy and current building practices.

Architects have taken on this challenge head on and are stepping up to reduce embodied and operational carbon, use sustainably sourced materials, rediscover and innovate the use of traditional building techniques, and expand their knowledge to guide clients in their quest for futureproof buildings.

The 2021 Smart Practice Conference will feature architects, engineers and clients who are pushing our understanding of sustainable design and construction in different ways.

On 29 September, we will hear about the radical application of the principle ‘renew not demolish’, visit a case study of meeting the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets, debate how to ‘design for change’ and explore how to apply Circular Economy principles to a Passivhaus project in an interactive workshop. We will show how architects optimise buildings in the early design stages to maximise natural lighting and ventilation, reclaiming their agency and fundamental role in achieving low energy buildings.

On 30 September, we will feature speakers expanding the application of natural building materials, question if ‘the future is timber’ and hear from structural engineers on how to use materials in a considered way. A small practice will showcase how it sources reclaimed materials locally and thereby avoids pervasive delivery delays. Not least, we will discuss how to develop your sustainability skills to gain a business edge. For one practice, this has led to a thriving consultancy spin-off.

Net Zero - what does it mean and how do we get there?

Sustainability speed mentoring

Ticketholders will have the opportunity to register for a sustainability speed mentoring evening with leading experts. It will take place from 7pm to 8pm after the conference and launch towards the end of the summer; ticketholders will be notified by email. Places will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Speakers include:

29 September, 1pm - 6pm

  • Simon Allford, RIBA President Elect
  • Anne Lacaton, Lacaton& Vassal, 2021 Pritzker Prize Laureates
  • Duncan Baker-Brown, BakerBrown
  • Julia Barfield, Marks Barfield
  • Dan Epstein, Useful Simple Trust
  • Nick Hodges, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Craig Robertson, AHMM
  • Penny Gowler, Elliot Wood
  • Richard Walder, Buro Happold

30 September, 1pm - 6pm

  • Christina Gaiger, RIAS President
  • Martin Rauch, Lehm Ton Erde
  • Andrew Lawrence, Arup
  • Duncan Baker-Brown, BakerBrown
  • Janna Laan Lomas, Grain Architecture
  • Peter Laidler, Structure Workshop
  • Chris Stewart, Collective Architecture
  • Anna Woodeson, LTS Architects

More speakers to be confirmed

Ticket Prices:

  • RIBA Member 1 Day (29 or 30 September): £20
  • RIBA Member 2 Days: £35
  • Non Member 1 Day (29 or 30 September): £35
  • Non Member 2 Days: £60
  • Student 1 Day (29 or 30 September): £10
  • Student 2 Days: £15

A hardship ticket option is available for RIBA Members who are struggling at the current time. Tickets are priced at the student rate. Please email with your membership number 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 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. This conference is RIBA CPD Certified and each day is worth four 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 seven days before the event - 22 September

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 26 September. Please email for any last-minute 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


Smart Practice Conference 2021 is sponsored by Ibstock

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