The Built Environment and COP26
The UN’s COP26 climate conference addressed carbon emissions from buildings for the first time during its Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day this week, designed to rally awareness, action and collaboration among all stakeholders in the built environment.
Emissions from the built environment is a challenging problem – but not an insurmountable one. That said, the role that the construction industry plays in enabling solutions to the climate crisis need more attention and action all round.
To do this, engaging with those who develop and build projects is key. As engineers and advocates of sustainable construction, we have a significant role to play. If you’re reading this, it’s likely your contribution is vital too.
Commitment to change
In 2019, we signed up to the ‘UK Structural Engineers Declare’. However, while declarations are important for building awareness, visibility, and mobilisation of a plan, it is individual actions and commitment to change that matters most.
The technical solutions already exist to deliver net zero carbon buildings. What we need next is a shift in mind-set to deliver change. At Engenuiti we have already delivered a number of net zero buildings, but this is just the beginning of the journey.
Action to shift mindsets
As we work towards a world where net zero buildings are the norm, here is what we’re doing to shift mind-sets and deliver change:
- Working with our clients to question the project brief. Can the building be refurbished and upgraded over demolished and rebuilt?
- Encouraging designers to ‘push the envelope’ in designing out inefficiency. This includes challenging our own designs.
- Enabling the use of reclaimed materials within our designs, and embracing the idea of buildings as material banks, designing for future disassembly and re-use.
- Embracing and exploring the appropriate use of new and existing low carbon materials, combinations and arrangements.
- Challenging contractors to engage with their supply chain partners to source materials locally.
- Continuing to work with government and professional institutions to push to tighten requirements and promote legislation and targets that achieve sustainability.
Following Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day, and as the curtain closes on COP26, we hope for consensus and action on how we as engineers can help to change the impact of the build environment to better support the environment now and, in the years, to come.
To read more about the projects which bring to life how we’re aiming to shift mindsets and deliver change, visit:
- Spelthorne Leisure Centre
- Marlborough Sports Gardens
- Commercial Buildings - Towards Hybrid Framing
- Citu City Works
- Mass Timber Office
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