Architectural design and new standards for sustainability

Making marks, where they arise - That's the mission of the British architecture firm, realized through its sustainability manifesto

Foster and partner

In June 2019, a number of British architects launched the initiative UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency. Among other things, their website says: "Buildings and structures play a major role because it is responsible for almost 40 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and at the same time has a significant impact on our natural habitats." Architectural design and sustainability are two inseparable topics of our society today.

In addition to Grimshaw Architects, the architecture firm Foster + Partners is one of the first to sign up last year. With their sustainability manifesto they published concrete plans concerning the topic. These were even presented during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid. So far, another 830 offices have followed the initiative, with the aim of strengthening their work practices to create architecture and urbanism that have a more positive impact on the world and people.

Architectural design - Doing more and more

With the eight-sided manifesto, the office would like to go beyond the current environmental certification systems and thus expand the commitments to the Paris climate protection goals. We are also faced with new challenges in the field of architectural design. Because, if we continue as before, the temperature of the atmosphere will rise by about +4,2 degrees. Thus, we need ways to reduce the climb by another 1,5 degrees.

The current standards are not sufficient for this."The construction and operation of buildings account for 26 percent of total global GHG emissions," the architects from Foster + Partners added.In order to reduce precisely these carbon dioxide emissions in the projects, a methodology for quantifying these emissions was developed on the basis of a holistic, sustainable approach.In this way, the environmental impact of a building can be measured, predicted and monitored in every project phase and over a typical lifespan.

Equipment and future renovations also fall into this category. Countermeasures or tools can be developed from this in order to reduce CO2 2measures.Internally, the architecture firm also works sustainably. For four years now, 100 percent of the electricity has been obtained from renewable sources. In addition, the annual global mobility of employees and emissions from heating and waste are fully compensated by the London office.

The special methodology for measuring emissions

To be able to measure carbon emissions, the projects are divided into six areas:

  • Project structure and construction site equipment
  • Structure
  • Facade
  • Building
  • Equipment and operation
  • Energy and transportation

Empirical values ​​and independently verified scientific data from more than 50 years enable the calculations, which are monitored and controlled during the entire construction process. Foster + Partners is now ready to offer this methodology to all future customers in order to take a big step towards the Paris Agreement.

Architectural design - the new view brings the planet back into balance

The architects' goal is to design climate-neutral or climate-restoring buildings. But the manifesto also says: "It takes a balance between emissions and absorption to stop global warming." Renewable energy and increased afforestation are needed. The planet can only find the right balance again with all nations.


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