Green buildings are the homes of our future, and I for one want assistance on how to transform my draughty, energy guzzling, Georgian terraced home into a heavenly haven of carbon neutrality. To go completely off-grid - in the centre of London. Now that would be a challenge!
But what of new-builds? Although my heart lies with a well seasoned building of 140 years plus, there are many out there seeking new developments. Where to turn for assistance on that front? Well, the UK has just launched it's own UK Green Building Council (ukgbc.org) at the recent Ecobuild show. Drawing together some of the foremost influential companies in the building sector, the intention is to unite the industry around a set of core goals by developing a roadmap with clear targets on how to achieve a step change in sustainability across the entire built environment, including urban planning, carbon emissions, waste and water.
The UK GBC will act to ensure sustainability is ‘built-in’ to all stages of the cycle from funding and procurement to design, construction and product manufacture, to operation and maintenance.
Having been contacted by individuals seeking builders with knowledge and understanding of sustainable practice, it is clear to me there is a very strong need for reliable and accurate information regarding sustainable construction. It is not only the property developer but also the building companies that want to know what works and what doesn’t. A key role of the UK GBC will be to share best practice and knowledge with not only the building sector but also the general public.
The Council, which is industry led, independent, not-for-profit, membership based organisation, will also promote the development and application of the UK’s world leading environmental assessment tools. It is their aim to provide a single, powerful, pan industry voice to Government.
Nine countries have now joined the World Green Building Council (W-GBC) with a further 30 countries actively considering establishing GBCs – see worldgbc.org. This could help to ensure that the transformation of the construction sector becomes a global phenomenon.
And of course, what of the architects? Yesterday evening I attended a talk at RIBA given by Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, entitled "Building a Sustainable Future". There, he highlighted the ultimate objective - to strive for a zero carbon built environment, with the need for architects and builders to incorporate renewable technologies and promote energy efficiency. It was his stated belief that "if we can develop efficient ways of farming solar energy we can provide for the future."
Given that over 50% of carbon emissions are come from buildings and another 10% come from the materials used in those buildings, it makes sense that the starting point is to put one's house in order. Sir David King, it transpires, is busily doing just that - on a Greek island. 10 meters above sea level. I strongly suspect he will be investing in a set of nifty pv panels.
You can register on the ukgbc.org website for regular updates.
To read a stimulating debate on architecture and the environment see George Marshall's blog, Climate Denial, where he takes the architectural establishment to task: Anti Environmental Architecture
[Photo credit: Bedzed]