RIBA reintroduces adapted Climate Challenge report and introduces voluntary performance targets

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has reintroduced an adapted Climate Challenge Report (V.2) and developed voluntary targets for operational energy use etc. to form the basis of the 2030 Climate Challenge, as linked to a news feature on the BBC.

… set of performance outcome targets for RIBA Chartered Practices to aim towards…

… targets are for performance outcomes of buildings in operation…

RIBA writes in (RIBA Climate Challenge 2030 Version 2 2021):

The RIBA has developed voluntary performance targets for operational energy use, water use and embodied carbon. These performance targets form the basis of the 2030 Climate Challenge which the RIBA has been developed in consultation with other professional UK construction bodies. The performance targets align with the future legislative horizon and set out a challenging but achievable trajectory to realise the significant reductions necessary by 2030 in order to have a realistic prospect of achieving net zero carbon for the whole UK building stock by 2050.

The RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge does not seek to replace or replicate a building environmental assessment and there is no associated RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge certification procedure. Instead, the RIBA presents a set of performance outcome targets for RIBA Chartered Practices to aim towards. The 2030 Climate Challenge is voluntary and is based on trust, there is no penalty imposed on Practices or projects that fall short of the Challenge.

The purpose of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge is to encourage Practices to take action now and to collaboratively shift in the profession towards outcome orientated design approaches.

Joining the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge

The 2030 Climate Challenge is currently open to all RIBA Chartered Practices. Signatories who join the Challenge commit to attempt to meet the targets on all their new and major refurbishment projects and commit to submitting data on these projects2 to the RIBA, when available. Submitted data will be anonymised and used only for specific purposes as outlined below. Whilst becoming a 2030 Climate Challenge signatory is currently restricted to RIBA Chartered Practices, the targets themselves are open source and can be used and embedded into projects or even in business plans.

There is no penalty or consequence for projects that miss the Challenge’s voluntary performance targets. Equally by joining the Challenge, Practices are not mandated to submit data on each and every single project….

RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge as built target trajectories

The RIBA joined the global ‘declare’ movement in June 2019 and to ensure that the strong words of the declaration of a climate emergency are matched by actions, the RIBA has set RIBA Chartered Practices a challenge of achieving the following reductions as soon as possible but as a minimum for projects in operation in 2030:

  1. Reduce operational energy demand by at least 60% from current business as usual baseline figures, before offsetting
  2. Reduce embodied carbon by at least 40% from current business as usual baseline figures, before offsetting
  3. Reduce potable water use by at least 40% from CIRIA benchmark/ Building Regulation figures
  4. Achieve all core health and well-being metrics…

These reductions will also form the basis of RIBA’s recommendations to Government for future Building Regulations requirements.

The Targets v2 (2021)

The voluntary operational energy and water use and embodied carbon performance targets that are set out in the 2030 Climate Challenge have been developed by the RIBA consultation with experts across the industry. The targets take into account the latest recommendations from the Green Construction Board7 and are aligned with other built environment professional bodies.

Originally launched in October 2019, the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge has now been re-issued as Version 2 (2021) with refined and updated targets that encompass development in the knowledge base of performance trajectories – particularly in the embodied carbon field. The embodied carbon targets in Version 2 are aligned with LETI, GLA, UKGBC and IStructE, and follow the latest jointly authored guidance. Version 2 (2021) of the Climate Challenge presents ambitious but achievable forward-facing performance outcomes that are in line with the Future Homes Standard and future regulation, set against business-as-usual compliance approaches.

As the targets are for performance outcomes of buildings in operation, the RIBA advocates that buildings in design today should, as a minimum, adopt the 2025 targets.

These targets are based on domestic and commercial buildings, the RIBA recognises that there may need to be further refinement by sector and building type in the future. In addition, the targets themselves may need further revision in the coming years as more detailed data and further work in sectoral contributions to carbon emissions in line with science-based targets is undertaken by the industry. The RIBA therefore acknowledges the imperfect nature of the targets but give the urgency for action on carbon emissions, there is no time to wait for the perfect set of figures to be developed….

Existing building stock

  • Assist existing clients with carrying out post occupancy evaluation and suggest strategies for fine-tuning existing buildings to reduce energy use and operational carbon emissions.
  • Prioritise the retention, reuse and repurposing of existing buildings where possible and where retrofit upgrades make carbon sense from a whole life perspective.

Embodied energy and carbon emissions

  • Prioritise the refurbishment and retrofit of existing buildings where possible.
  • Target an embodied carbon performance of <750 kgCO2e/m2 for non-domestic office buildings and <625 kgCO2e/m2 for domestic buildings by 2030 (minimum 40% reduction in embodied carbon compared to the current business as usual benchmarks) by using low carbon materials that are responsibly and ethically sourced.
  • Evaluate embodied carbon using the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment professional statement 201715 methodology and approach and include modules A1-5, B1-5, C1-4 (including sequestration), including a minimum of 95% of the cost allocated to each building element category (0-7 of Table 3, page 11 of RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment).
  • Embodied carbon assessments should reflect all items listed in the project’s Bill of Quantities, since RIBA Challenge are out as-built performance targets.
  • Reasonable assumptions need to be made in terms of level of detail of the project, in line with EN 15978. Any Whole Life Carbon Assessment report should clearly state which RIBA stage it was undertaken in and should therefore reflect the appropriate level of detail.
  • On projects where Whole Life Carbon assessments are not being undertaken as part of the project team’s core services, effort should be focussed on reducing embodied carbon following the hierarchy in LETI design guidance16, and reasonable endeavours should be made to quantify the embodied carbon savings achieved. Analysis tools such as H\B:ERT or FCBS CARBON may be used assist the process.17
  • Offset remaining carbon emissions by offsite renewable energy projects and/or certified woodland and reforestation projects.18


Read more….(Download)

Are you ready to take the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and commit to attempt to meet the targets and willing to submit project data to the RIBA?

Sign up at www.architecture.com/2030challenge

See more background

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