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2030 Climate Challenge FAQs

What is the 2030 Climate Challenge?

The RIBA has developed the 2030 Climate Challenge to help architects meet net zero (or better) whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. It sets a series of targets for practices to adopt to reduce operational energy, embodied carbon and potable water. If all RIBA Chartered Practices meet the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets, they will play their part in addressing this global crisis. Download the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets and checklist.

Why has RIBA launched the 2030 Climate Challenge?

The built environment is responsible for around 40% of global carbon emissions and architects have a significant role to play in reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

How were the targets set?

The targets consider the latest recommendations from the Green Construction Board and have been validated through consultation with UK professional bodies and with the Committee on Climate Change. These targets are based on domestic and commercial buildings and will need further refinement by sector, building type, occupancy and geographical location. The RIBA will seek to develop these additional metrics with other UK professional bodies. However, given the urgency, we cannot wait for the perfect benchmarks to be developed. The RIBA recommends that project teams aim for a percentage reduction of the current baselines and minimum regulatory standards.

Who can take part in the 2030 Climate Challenge?

The 2030 Climate Challenge is open to RIBA Chartered Practices. If you are not a RIBA Chartered Practice, find out how to become one.

How do I sign up?

RIBA Chartered Practices can sign up online.

Is the 2030 Climate Challenge mandatory?

The 2030 Climate Challenge is not mandatory; however, the built environment is responsible about 40% of global carbon emissions and it is vital that the sector become more energy efficient.

How do I submit data?

The RIBA will create a web-based portal for gathering building performance data in 2020. Until this is available practices may wish to use CarbonBuzz or similar building performance disclosure platforms.

Do I need to submit my data for every building?

The RIBA expect practices signed up to the 2030 Climate Challenge to submit data into a new RIBA portal from 2020 for all their buildings.

What will the RIBA be doing with data submitted?

The data will be anonymised and used to identify trends in performance to help set new targets and develop new guidance for members, clients and the construction industry.

Will participants get access to the data?

Participants will gain access to their own data and the anonymised dataset.

What is operational energy? How can it be measured?

The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Almost half of this is from energy used in buildings. Operational energy is measured in kWh/m2/y (kilowatt hours per square metre per year). The operational energy measurement of a building can be taken from confirmed energy bills or more advanced metering systems.

What is embodied carbon? How can it be measured?

Embodied carbon emissions are generated from the processes associated with sourcing materials, fabricating them into products and systems, transporting them to site and assembling them into a building. They also include the emissions due to maintenance, repair and replacement, as well as final demolition and disposal. Embodied carbon is measured in kgCO2e/m2 (kilograms of embodied carbon dioxide per square metre of floor area) The embodied carbon measurement of a building is generated using the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment Professional Statement – modules A-C (2017).

Why is there a target for operational energy and embodied carbon but not whole life carbon emissions?

The RIBA have set operational energy use and embodied carbon rather than whole life carbon because reducing energy demand is necessary regardless of the use of renewable energy. Meeting net zero whole life carbon by 2030 is included in the 2030 Climate Challenge checklist.

What is potable water use? How can it be measured?

Potable water is water that is safe to drink or to use for food preparation - in the UK all mains water is potable water. The effects of climate change will require the UK to find at least 3,300 million litres per day of additional capacity in the water supply system by 2050 according to DEFRA. Water is measured in litres per person per day and on average a person in the UK uses 141 litres of potable water per day and over the past few years use has begun to rise. The measurement can be taken from confirmed water use bills or water meters.

What are the health targets and why are these important?

The health targets in the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge are included to ensure designers consider the unintended consequences of a design overheating or not meeting standard daylight and indoor air standards. The maximum temperature target is 28°C, the daylight factor target is more than 2% (illuminance due to daylight at a point on an indoor wall / outdoor illuminance from an unobstructed standard overcast sky X 100) and the indoor air quality targets are measured in parts per million or milligrams per cubic metre depending on the pollutant.

What happens if my project does not meet the targets?

The RIBA would like feedback on why Chartered Practices believe their projects have not managed to meet the targets as this information is as useful as the data for improving the impact of this initiative.

How can I gain access to data I need to measure building performance?

During Stage 1 of a project you should ensure your client is made aware of the benefits of undertaking post occupancy evaluation (POE) and this should be planned for in the brief and design of the project. Agreeing the need to collect this information from the outset makes it easier to collect in the long-term. For the 2030 Climate Challenge POE should ideally be undertaken after the building has gone through both summer and winter seasons to ensure the more accurate data is available. The RIBA Plan for Use Guide (due to be published in November 2019) will provide more information and help.

What guidance is RIBA offering to members who to take part?

The RIBA will soon publish the RIBA Plan of Work 2019 which includes updated sustainability guidance, and a new guide on Sustainable Outcomes. These materials will support members and practices to develop and deliver clear, measurable and realistic goals that ensure their projects meet the 2030 Climate Challenge targets.

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