Skip to main content

Meeting net-zero goals by 2015

The construction sector is responsible for 37% of global CO2 emissions and must rapidly reduce its carbon footprint to meet net-zero goals by 2050.

Architects have been primarily focused on operational carbon – the pollution caused from heating and powering a building. Demolishing buildings with poor insulation and replacing them with more energy-efficient newbuilds is an improvement at face value. However, newbuilds generate large amounts of embodied carbon, offsetting the green credentials.

Carbon emissions are greatly reduced if developers reshape the interiors of existing buildings while keeping the shells intact, rather than demolish and rebuild. Houlton School recently won the first RIBA Reinvention Award. The award was created to encourage architects to pour their creativity into refurbishing existing buildings, rather than demolishing them in favour of newbuild.

CIRIA is supporting the new trend to revitalise buildings.

Check out our guidance Repurposing and reconfiguring buildings (C806) to learn how building reuse can be a powerful tool to reduce embodied carbon.