Scientific consensus is that actions this decade will determine the extents of rapidly worsening climate breakdown. Research now predicts that we are likely to experience global heating above the 1.5°C threshold in the next three years, with escalating consequences being disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable populations around the world. Those of us shaping the built environment have a fundamental responsibility to take action that goes beyond minimising the harm that our work does and to provide solutions at scale.
Developing a three year climate action plan in the context of cascading climate and ecological emergency is one way that Architype hopes to positively affect our unpredictable future. It serves as an open invitation to others to do the same as well as ensuring we hold ourselves accountable, After almost 40 years of working at the vanguard of sustainable design to today, where as a 100 strong team of co-owners we champion the possibilities of Passivhaus and natural materials, this is the next step on our practice’s journey.
This roadmap is the outcome of our climate action team’s sustained engagement with co-owners and practice management, and is informed by the principles of our Architects Declare commitment. Participatory workshops and surveys were held on the Architects Declare Principles – revealing how these are delivered, or not, in day-to-day work. A heatmap was developed that allows us to identify aspects of the RIBA’s Climate Literacy Knowledge Schedule where we are individually strong, and where we require further knowledge and can enhance our training. Participatory climate justice workshops have been held at our Edinburgh, Hereford and London studios – recognising that it is a context and place-specific challenge, and that we have much to offer each locale.
A continued commitment to action
Even as this plan developed, Architype continued to practice what we preach, share, and teach. Picking up awards for buildings that reflect this ethos along the way including: the Enterprise Centre – one of seventeen projects exhibited during COP26 by the World Green Building Council, Entopia for the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership – an EnerPHit (Passivhaus for retrofit) and embodied carbon reduction exemplar, and Hackbridge Primary School – the first Passivhaus Plus zero carbon school in the UK‘s . Today we are delivering ever more low carbon projects – with a surge in EnerPHit work, carrying out retrofit studies on local authority estates and progressing a growing number of school retrofits. This is an opportunity we have embraced to upskill more co-owners in lifecycle analysis using our innovative ECCOLAB software, building our capacity to benchmark our work against the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.
At a moment when time is running out, the construction industry has a long way to go to shed its title of the “40% industry” for its significant contribution to UK emission totals. Architype’s climate action roadmap is about accountability, benchmarking, and envisioning the kind of futures we want to be part of realising. It is the next step on our journey, with much more work to do – as a practice, and collectively as part of the wider sector, and there is no time like the present.