Other contributors suggested there were issues concerning monitoring through the lifetime of assets and a lack of consistency and reliability of modelling tools in this area that have ‘baffled’ developers, along with net zero meaning different things to different people in existing buildings and operational performance. There was also, said Simon Sturgis, Managing Director, Targeting Zero, a perception and uncertainty amongst clients that ‘sustainability is an expensive business and is probably also irritating because of the boxes to tick’. But redeploying materials in a sensible way with a better understanding of how the supply chain works and making better decisions ‘can bring significant reductions with not a great deal of effort.’
On the brighter side, however, there were also positive examples to get across from other ongoing work from session partners in Net Zero projects.
Cllr Andrew Achilleos, Member Champion for Climate Change, LB Barking & Dagenham said the Barking Riverside project will trial the ENVAC system to reduce the amount of heavy, polluting refuse vehicles on site and Barking was working to make a lot of its other developments car-free, increasing cycle infrastructure alongside that an lobbying TfL to run low-emission vehicles in the borough. Louisa Bowles, Partner and Head of Sustainability, Hawkins\Brown said she was working on a design guide for Camden that requires housing to measure in whole-life carbon, Sturgess adding that people were starting to ‘take action’ and some of the bigger developers requiring project teams to undertake whole life carbon assessments, albeit mainly on office schemes. ‘I think this is a filter-down process’, he said.
But cultural aspects have also been challenged successfully in places, said Dollard. ‘Goldsmith Street winning the Stirling Prize last year – that was a Passivhaus scheme and certainly challenged the design culture around form over function and around Modernism being the key aesthetic. So, tackling aesthetics over the function is starting to happen, or at least balancing out those two’. Local authorities, he added, were also leading the way, evidenced by design guides which mandate zero carbon from 2025 and Passivhaus for ‘several thousand’ social housing projects.