Architects call time for change: How can you reduce climate change from your home.
Updated: Jan 14, 2020
As Architects we have an important influence to consider on the impact, sustainability and efficiency of the materials, processes and the long term output of the buildings we design. Whether the project is residential or commercial, a listed building or a new build.
Every choice made may only seem small in the grand scheme of things, but if we all as individuals are able to make even just a small change, this movement amounts to a greater positive impact, long term.
We’ve all heard the stark warning from climate scientists; our current actions are not enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, instead of 2 degrees. This seemingly minimal difference could actually cause catastrophic changes to ecosystems, human and animal health and well-being across the world.
In order to achieve this target, global CO2 emissions would need to be cut by 45% by the end of the next decade. Reducing the impact of further extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, arctic ice melting and damage to ecosystems.
Often, we only hear what large organisations, Governments, industries or countries should be doing to cut huge chunks of emissions. But what can you do in your homes and lives to actively contribute towards an overall reduction so greatly needed?
Possibly one of the biggest things we can do as individuals, to reduce our #carbonfootprint is going car-free. Not always ideal for everyone, depending on where you live and work and how good the public transport links are. But if you can, you could remove one fourth or 2.5 tonnes of your average yearly emissions as an individual.
So, what are your options? Why not take a look at your local bus route, or train times, could you switch your car for public transport full or part time, or even better for your health and well-being try walking?
If going car-free isn’t an option, research into changing your car for a more energy efficient vehicle, electric vehicles are becoming more widely available and accessible (cost wise) for everyone. Charging points are becoming common sight, and you could benefit from better fuel economy with a more energy efficient vehicle.
Making your home more energy efficient is an option that has been around for a while now, especially when you consider how long solar panels have been available for residential use, as far back as the late 1970’s! With the biggest uptake commencing in the 1990’s. Renewables like wind and solar are becoming increasingly cheaper and by 2020 should be on par with or cheaper than fossil fuels.
What you eat
How many meat free meals do you consume each week? Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go ‘meat free’, but how about trying to simply reduce your meat consumption? Swapping a couple of meals per week to a vegan, planet based or vegetarian option can help to reduce your emissions as an individual, reduce your intake of saturated fats and increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and fibre all linked with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
December has just hit and the plus button on most of our homes heating control panel is receiving a beating. But how about hitting that minus button? Turning your heating down by just 1 degree can save you 10% on your energy use over a year and help to reduce the amount of toxic fumes being released into the air by power plants. So grab another layer and wrap up, are you really going to feel 1 degree less? Probably not!
In the hmad|architects office, we have use of a log burner to keep us warm in the winter months. We recycle all of our office paper, card etc. in the log burner as fuel and a local supplier provides us with wood. Sadly everything has an impact in some way, some will say that a log burner isn't the most energy efficient option, but we are making good choices by recycling office waste and supporting a local supplier.
Were you aware of the #Retrofirst campaign that recently hit the Architectural industry? It is working to encourage Architects, Contractors, Designers and Suppliers to think about the sustainability of design and construction work now and in the future. This includes cutting the VAT rate on refurbishment, repair and maintenance work, promoting the reuse of existing building stock and stimulating a circular economy towards a whole-life carbon approach.
Even if you aren’t having any architectural work done on your #home or business, you can still be involved in this campaign as a consumer, by thinking more carefully about your home or business purchases. Need a new dining table and chairs? Some new home accessories following redecoration? A set of new desks for your businesses expansion?
Go on, give it a try!
These are just some of the things you can try at home to minimise the emissions you contribute as an individual to global warming. Adopting other positive changes as part of our daily lives such as; switching off electrical items we aren’t using, being conscious of how much water we use, nurturing our gardens by planting species that insects and bees can thrive on, are a few.
Ultimately, the more of us that make a change, on a more regular basis will encourage others to follow, organisations and Governments to take note and the future health and stability of our planet to improve by reducing emissions so desperately needed to stop temperatures rising such an excessive speed.
Here at hmad|architects, Exeter in Devon we are passionate about finding sustainable methods of architectural design and construction to inform the work we produce for our clients, alongside our trusted contractors and suppliers.
These choices mean the impact on the embodied energy produced when materials are made and the in use energy produced by the buildings we design, restore or renovate is greatly reduced.
We can all do something, just making one small change is all it takes to equal one big, positive impact!
BBC Future (2018) by Diego Arguedas Ortiz – Ten Simple Ways to Act on Climate Change.
RGS Energy (2015) - The History of Residential Solar Energy.
British Nutrition Foundation (2018) by Melanie Hargraves – Should we all be going meat free?
Woman & Home (2019) – Sustainable living: 10 ways to stop global warming from home
Architect’s Journal (2019 - RetroFirst Campaign