• 22 Apr 2022

On World Earth Day the RIAI Calls on Architects to Play Their Part in Tackling Climate Change

The RIAI has called on architects on the occasion of World Earth Day to work together and play their part in tackling the crippling challenges posed by climate change.

Creating a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world requires a suite of efforts and to support this the RIAI is encouraging members to pursue new ways to reduce emissions, improve energy management and promote efficient building design.

Conscious of the critical role architects play in the built environment and their environmental impact the RIAI launched their “2030 Climate Challenge policy late last year. 

The plan calls for urgent action to be taken by architects and the wider construction industry in tackling the current climate emergency.

2030 Climate Challenge is a climate change initiative to encourage the profession and wider construction industry to achieve net zero whole life carbon for all new and retrofitted buildings by 2030.

The RIAI 2030 Climate Challenge asks architects to commit to four key targets:

  • Reduce operational energy demand by as far as possible, before notional offsetting 
  • Reduce embodied carbon by at least 40%, before notional offsetting
  • Reduce potable water use by at least 40% 
  • Achieve core health and wellbeing targets 

Speaking on World Earth Day RIAI President, Charlotte Sheridan said: Climate change is the defining challenge of our era, and the built environment has a key role to play in helping to avert the worst-case outcomes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report reminds us that achieving emission reduction, and long term emission goals is possible, but only if we act immediately. These are deadlines we simply cannot afford to miss. 

As a profession we are trained to problem solve, and we have the design skills and technical expertise to develop solutions to address the climate emergency. Problem solving is fundamental to how we work and is what we do every day as a profession. We have consistently promoted the concept of sustainable urban development and consolidation of settlements, and work on the basis that ‘the most sustainable building is the existing building’.

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson has described how a ‘moon-shot’ effort is required on an international scale to prevent climate catastrophe. As architects and urban designers, we have both the drive and ambition to collectively rise to this challenge, and to play our part to create high-quality environments, and sustainable communities within a socially responsible, global context. 

The RIAI has also published a guide for architects to integrate sustainability in their projects and practices. The purpose of the RIAI Guide: Sustainable Design Pathways is to educate and inform architects and other construction professionals, including surveyors, planners and engineers, on the key areas that must be addressed in built environment design and development to combat climate crisis.