Richard Hyams, former Norman Foster architect and founder of award-winning practice astudio, comments:
“The government’s pledge of a £3bn green investment package to decarbonise public buildings and minimise emissions from homes in the UK is a welcome step, we must use this incentive as a stepping stone to go further if we are to meet the UK’s net zero emissions goals by 2050.
“Buildings and construction together account for over a third of global energy use, and nearly 40% of all CO2 emissions in the UK. To ensure a green and socially responsible recovery from this pandemic, we need to fundamentally change how we look at these buildings. We think of buildings as absorbers of energy, but they should become generators. Beyond introducing new insulation for public buildings, we should be assessing its carbon footprint, omitting the use of fossil fuels and retrofitting buildings with innovative materials, such as smart glass or “living walls” lined with algae compounds that can generate biofuels.
“New insulation is vital in tackling fuel poverty as well as increasing the sustainability and affordability of existing homes, but we must also remember we face another crisis in affordable housing, with a third of local authorities missing their housebuilding targets even before the pandemic. The government and everyone in the sector must look to more efficient and affordable ways of delivering truly sustainable and accessible homes, and use this and other funded incentives to innovate and change the current broken housing model, technologies such as offsite manufacturing to reduce project timelines, lower carbon and waste production, while sacrificing neither the quality of our buildings nor the safety of the workforce.”