Net Zero NLA Think Tank – One year on from our climate charter
As we become Programme Champions for the New London Architecture (NLA) Net Zero work stream, our London Director Gareth Atkinson takes a look at net zero one year on from when we launched our climate charter. Article previously published on NLA website / newsletter.
Fundamentally, a climate resilient city is a city that is loved and cared for by its inhabitants, its visitors, and its governors. How we engineer and design our cities is fundamental to how they can become more sustainable, more functional and more enjoyable places to work and live.
As designers we know our responsibilities. Net Zero targets have been set and the gauntlet laid down. We know we have to push hard to repurpose, reuse and adapt the buildings, streets and places that make up our cities. We need to embrace the embodied carbon already in our buildings and adapt them for the future.
We also need to reimagine our streets and spaces between buildings to make them sponges for carbon emissions and adapt them to help control surface water – especially as storm events and intense sun will become more prevalent with a more unpredictable climate. Civic Engineers’ Climate Charter reminds our engineers to achieve this while making our cities better, more biodiverse and healthier places to be.
Understanding how to unlock more from schemes can be seen as unconventional or risky in the eyes of some. It takes persistence. But careful navigation of the various stakeholders wins over hearts and minds.
Whether convincing a building owner to take time to understand the potential of their existing structure for repurpose, or gaining the trust of a local authority to properly maintain a raingarden in a newly-widened footpath, now more than ever is the time to do our best. We must communicate the reasons why the ‘new normal’ is deeply rooted in carbon control.
A sustainable approach is not only needed to achieve net zero targets, but to enable cities to strive towards greater climate resilience. Doing so will enable us to and create beautiful, well-functioning, healthy cities where people truly want to be.