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Built Environment Summit seeks research that will "embolden governments" to decarbonise architecture

A summit organised by RIBA and Architects Declare is seeking ideas for reducing carbon emissions from the built environment ahead of the COP26 climate conference in November.

The Built Environment Summit, which takes place at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London just before COP26, aims to alert governments to the need to reduce emissions from the built environment, which account for almost 40 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Summit to draw COP attention to build environment

The deadline for research that will be discussed at the summit has been extended to 5 July.

"The aim of the summit is to embolden governments to support and work with the international built environment industry to decarbonise construction," said RIBA.

"We cannot meet the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degrees Celcius limit above pre-industrial levels without making substantial changes to the way we design, build, operate and adapt our built environment," it added.

"The Built Environment Summit will bring that message from the international construction industry to governments at COP26."

Summit taking place ahead of COP26

COP26, or Conference of the Parties, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is set to take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

RIBA and Architects Declare are inviting architects to submit research and documentation of exemplar projects to be used at the conference and to form a report that will be presented at COP26.

The report will aim to demonstrate that the built environment has a significant environmental impact and outline ways in which change can be made to reduce this.

It will also aim to highlight that the built environment requires support from the governments attending COP26 to make change happen.

"Governments can provide the national, international, sector-focused, cross-sectoral regulations, infrastructure, and foresight to support the built environment in making the changes required to meet the 1.5°C target," said RIBA.

Submissions to the conference and report will be selected by a steering group that includes RIBA president-elect Simon Allford, Buro Happold director of sustainability Maria Smith and architect Andrew Waugh.

The steering group will be supported by a group of industry experts including Arup sustainable buildings lead Mel Allwood, Perkins & Will sustainability director Asif Din, former RIBA president Ben Derbyshire, and CEO of OnePlanet.com Pooran Desai.

Virtual pavilion to highlight built environment's environmental impact

The research is one of several initiatives taking place to draw attention to the built environment's role in causing climate change at the coronavirus-delayed COP26 conference.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has coordinated 100 organisations to create the UK Built Environment Virtual Pavilion that will contain an exhibition showcasing low-carbon projects.

At the request of several organisations including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) earlier this year, the president of COP26 Alok Sharma agreed to host an official day dedicated to the built environment at the conference. However, no details of the day have emerged.

Built Environment Summit will take place at RIBA London from 28 to 29 October 2021 ahead of COP26, which will take place at SEC Centre in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November 2021. 

See Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.