This article is by Richard Hutchinson
Richard is a director at LOM who leads a wide range of architectural and interior design commissions in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Australia.
As architects, we have a responsibility to articulate the benefits of sustainable architecture and deliver energy efficient buildings for our clients. We are also looking at our own operations and are actively working towards becoming a Net Zero business.
We’re in a climate emergency. At LOM, we acknowledge this and want to play our part in bringing sustainable architecture into the mainstream. Increasingly, more businesses are embedding sustainability into their brands and this means more occupiers putting Net Zero at the physical heart of their organisations: namely their buildings.
Covid-19 has sharpened the focus. It’s forcing many businesses to review their property portfolios and make sure they are fit for the future – a sustainable future.
Consumers and employees are scrutinising how firms back up statements on purpose and ‘walk the walk’ on the values they espouse. Occupiers are increasingly realising the need for their buildings to be a bricks and mortar statement of how they are helping to solve the climate crisis.
of annual carbon emissions are attributable to buildings
Working to create long-lasting and quality buildings has always been a central tenet of our studio. But there is much more to be done to reach the highest levels of sustainability. Embedded carbon in buildings and inefficient building stock are both massive contributors to global heating. We, as architects, are on the front line and are instrumental in combatting this.
So we’ve begun by looking inwards, at our own practice. Becoming a Net Zero business is fundamental and will put us in a stronger position to advise our clients and peers who are moving in a similar direction. To advise, we need to act too. Like many of our peers, we have signed up to the Architects Declare sustainability initiative and we intend to build on this commitment by getting our own house in order.
It starts with being assessed on our own carbon footprint. We have appointed Hydrock, sustainability and energy specialists, who are helping us to navigate our own path to neutrality, as well as investigating the best way to offset the carbon we cannot eliminate. As we make this journey we will remain open and honest about our progress and the ambitious programme ahead.
“As architects, we have a responsibility to articulate the benefits of Net Zero buildings.”
Richard Hutchinson, director at LOM
We’re also looking outwards, at the designs we produce and the creative solutions we provide.
Occupiers are managing costs and their bottom lines with understandable rigour as we enter a recession brought on by the pandemic. This makes cost/value judgements all the more important. Although the upfront cost of sustainable architecture is reducing, this can still be an obstacle for firms looking to cut short-term costs. We want to remove the perception that building sustainably is just a more costly option. Instead, occupiers need to look to the long-term and the drastically lower lifecycle costs of running a Net Zero portfolio.
Looked at objectively, we’re talking about a superb return on investment. Building more sustainably provides an opportunity both to save the planet and to bolster balance sheets over the long term.
As architects, we have a responsibility to articulate the benefits of Net Zero buildings. In doing so, we also hope that sustainable architecture will move towards becoming an unexceptional norm – a requirement rather than a nice-to-have. Only then will we have achieved our goal.
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