If there was ever a moment that perfectly encapsulated the role that the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) plays in uniting, inspiring, advocating and enabling change within the built environment, it was Friday 20 September in London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.
The UKGBC team was joined by hundreds of individuals from our membership, along with their families, friends and colleagues from right across the built environment, who came together to join four million people across the world for the Global Climate Strike.
From climate-emergency-declaring architectural practices and engineering consultancies, to multinational property developers, global managing agents and investors, membership and trade bodies and many individuals (including several from our CEO Leaders Network), the whole spectrum of the UK property industry showed its support for urgent climate action. For many, it was a deeply motivating renewal of our commitment to work harder and ever more quickly to achieve a radically better built environment.
We were grateful to those who joined us on the day, for responding to our call to action and for demonstrating such visible leadership – our live blog from the day confirms that the talents of the property industry also extend to creating superb placards!
Business is certainly picking up pace in responding to the climate crisis. At the recent UN Climate Summit in New York, 87 companies committed to setting value chain climate targets aligned to 1.5°C and net-zero emissions by 2050, and 130 banks holding $47trn (£38trn) in assets launched ‘the Principles for Responsible Banking’, committing to climate action and sustainability.
Building on the momentum of the Global Climate Strike, we unveiled our Climate Commitment Platform, an online tool designed to profile the headline commitments and carbon targets of ultimately all – yes all – built environment organisations. WorldGBC, supported by the UKGBC, has announced that 63 organisations have signed up to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. They have also launched the widely endorsed report Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront across the world.
The recent announcement of the government’s much-anticipated consultation on the Future Homes Standard and changes to building regulation sets out a new and extremely welcome level of ambition, indicating a direction of travel towards net-zero-carbon homes.
Serendipitously, the award of the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize to Goldsmith Street in Norwich recognises a development that delivers a triple dividend: safeguarding the environment and the needs of the local community while being commercially viable.
If your organisation has not signed up to the net-zero-carbon commitment, there is no better moment to do so. History may judge the Global Climate Strike in September as a moment of epiphany for many, a moment when everyone in our industry came together to change everything – don’t get left behind.
@Munish Datta is head of membership and insights at the UK Green Building Council