RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge
Oak View Studio has signed up to the RIBA challenge: that is to target net zero whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030, reducing operational and embodied energy use.
Why start now? To meet the challenge, carbon saving needs to be part of a client’s brief from the beginning. We argue the case in 2 ways:
- First, if decarbonising the housing stock is the government’s target, a project built now to current Building Regulations will, by 2030, need a deep energy re-fit, just like all older housing – a major expense.
- Second, during this decade, incentives will drive up the number of electric vehicles, the number of heat pumps , solar PV and small scale wind turbines, as we move away from oil and gas. This transition will overload the national electricity grid and the demand is bound to bring price rises.
If these are the downsides in 2030, we should target net zero carbon now.
The Passivhaus Institute sets out a design process to measure and reduce operational carbon for new build and refurbishment. There are 3 levels to choose from: Low energy, Enerphit and Passivhaus. We would encourage our clients to buy into this approach from day 1. For our part, we will always recommend materials that have low embodied carbon.
The 2030 Challenge goes beyond reducing operational and embodied energy: it also set limits for water usage in domestic buildings, places a priority on making use of existing buildings wherever possible and promotes healthy buildings and measures that will leave a site with significantly enhanced biodiversity.
Our own Carbon Footprint
The Studio is run from Oak View, a Listed cottage in the village of Sandhurst, Kent. Until now, energy for water and space heating for the Studio has been provided for us by a 30 year old oil-fired boiler with an oil tank in the garden.
We wanted to get rid of the oil. This summer, we obtained a Planning Permission to install an air source heat pump, which is running now, a delight. As part of the government’s Renewable Heat Initiative, we will get a grant payment for installing a renewable energy device that will pay for the material cost of the equipment over 7 years. From now, our energy costs should be cut to 1/3 and our carbon footprint for energy supply will be cut by almost 70%. This is a contribution all Listed buildings can make.
We will show here the energy savings recorded after a year in operation. There is much else we can address to reduce our overall carbon footprint.
Understanding the heritage value that our building fabric represents, we will also research techniques that will allow us to upgrade this historic fabric sensitively over time.