Reliance on predicted outcomes poses serious risk to Net Zero ambitions

Building performance considerations must be embedded into the architecture process, from pre-design stages on into operation, in order to achieve Net Zero targets, representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and climate technology firm IES have warned.

Pressure is mounting on architects, urban designers, and planners to play their role in tackling the climate crisis by helping to decarbonise the built environment, which currently accounts for nearly 40% of global energy related emissions.

Over 1,200 architects have now pledged their support for the UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, more than 1,000 firms have committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 with the AIA 2030 Commitment, and more than 300 RIBA Chartered Practices have signed up to its RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.

However, the performance gap – the disparity between the predicted energy performance of a building and its actual in-use performance – will continue to render these ambitious pledges impossible without more widespread adoption of an outcomes-based design approach and performance modelling tools.

Gary Clark, RIBA member and sustainability expert said: “Despite clear encouragement in our Sustainable Outcomes Guide, we’re not seeing the routine employment of building performance studies on projects in their entirety. These studies are invaluable – helping clients to improve their briefing process, contractors to improve their build process, and us all to generally improve building performance and quality.

“Embedding building performance considerations into the process right from pre-design stages through to operation is essential. We cannot continue to allow the use of predicted outcomes as the absolute measure of success if we are serious about delivering a step change in sustainability.”

Don McLean, founder and chief executive at IES, said: “Architects, urban planners and designers are in a privileged position to be able to make a real, tangible difference to the global climate crisis. It’s time to seize this opportunity, maintain core control over critical design decisions, and help our buildings become part of a zero carbon future.

“There are now a range of building performance evaluation techniques and tools specifically designed to meet these challenges, and help achieve a crucial golden thread of building performance data for use across a building’s lifecycle.”




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