In August, Pacific Environments, along with a number of NZ based Architects, signed Architects Declare NZ. The following open letter is inspired by our UK colleagues, gently adapted for the environment here in Aotearoa New Zealand.*
New Zealand Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.
(Taken from the website above) The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time. Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.
For everyone working in on the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth's ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.
We aim to take realistic steps, leaning on research undertaken by others, to make a difference. Being aware of the materials and processes we use in both design and construction will lead us to designing buildings that are gentler on the world.
We have a small ESD team in the office, and they recently met to discuss the Declare movement and to update information relating to BRANZ training on carbon measures that staff attended. Their key takeaways from the training are:
Smart efficient design – designing small with no wasted space is the best, and cheapest, way to reduce emissions.
Bring up sustainability and Carbon Emissions (and the cost savings to the client) early in the design process.
Work with consultants and set measurable targets for the building early on i.e Homestar, Greenstar, Zero Carbon.
Use timber as a first choice for structure and passive ventilation as a first choice for climate control.
Reduce water use (using water supply has a large contribution to a building’s Carbon emissions over its lifetime.)
Our next steps include: producing a checklist of initiatives that we can take to client meetings and get these on the table early; using the LCAQuick tool on one of our new projects and enrolling another staff member in the Homestar Assessor programme. We are very passionate about what we can do to make a difference.
*taken from the nz.architectsdeclare.com website