Most my design projects involve solutions and construction methods that mitigate for Climate Change. Whether we agree with the imposed methodology or not, we are obliged to meet certain mandatory Government Standards during construction as legislators set targets that aim to reduce Carbon Emissions. These Construction Standards are monitored by Building Control. It would be very easy for us, (and less time consuming) to follow blindly the rules without any in depth knowledge of the facts behind Climate Change. However, I consider we have a duty to advise properly based on a clear understanding of the global issues. What I call joined-up-thinking or the Gaia Principle. Only then can we make a difference that is effective.
I have very mixed feelings about the current effectiveness of our Climate Change Mitigation methods for many different reasons. In particular because we are discouraged by our specialisations from looking at the broader picture which is judged as being beyond our remit.
The technological insight, at the top that produces legislation is seldom shared by those at the sharp end constructing houses or by clients paying the bill. Hence mitigation is often watered down as people try to navigate round very complex and expensive demands with a very modest understanding of the issues and a limited budget. And there is far too much reliance on a technology that out-strips our technical knowledge. Control systems are now invisible – hidden in binary code and inside chips. As a result systems that are too complex and unfathomable are used inefficiently so that valuable materials and opportunities are squandered. In the end the real benefits are often too small to be significant.
A simple example of counter-productive Green Wash was the flooding of the market with mercury loaded (toxic) low energy lamps that were a knee jerk reaction to the need to cut Carbon Emissions. How many millions went to landfill? And another – the production of Solar lights made of stainless steel and complex components that fail because they are made so cheaply and with built in obsolescence – the same mindset that got us into this sorry state in the first place. So we do not simply bow to legislation and where we think it won’t work we do not apply it.
Skepticism and/or indifference plays a huge part in forming prejudiced attitudes towards building to any effective standard. Most builders just want to get the job done without losing money. Most clients want the end result for a sensible price. And we, as designers, can only advise and inform. The impact we can have as a single operator, in constructing to a higher standard, is minuscule and a huge tax on the end user that is often not value for money. So are we being sold a hysterical and misguided tale of woe for some hidden agenda or is Climate Change a fact we really need to do something about?
This Article (link below) has been put together by Berkeley Earth – a group of scientists researching claims surrounding Climate Change.
Berkeley Earth is independently operated, funded primarily by unrestricted educational grants. They pursue objectivity without concern for policies of government, industry or philanthropic ventures.
Read who they are here: http://berkeleyearth.org/
Read their statement on facts surrounding Climate Change here:
Surface Temperature Estimate produced by Berkeley Earth provides indisputable data.