Architects declare climate emergency

| 30th May 2019
RIBA Stirling Prize winners declare climate and biodiversity emergency in open letter.


The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time.

Buildings and construction play a major part in that crisis, accounting for nearly 40 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats. 

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system. 

Collective will 

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will.

Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us. 

We will seek to: 

  • Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains;
  • Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this;
  • Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings;
  • Share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis;
  • Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this  approach;
  • Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice. 
  • Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy  evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
  • Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing architecture and urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.
  • Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste. 
  • Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work. 
  • Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail. 


We hope that every UK architectural practice will join us in making this commitment. 

These Authors

The open letter above was signed by: 

Alison Brooks Architects
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Caruso St John
David Chipperfield Architects dRMM
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Foster + Partners
Haworth Tompkins
Hodder + Partners
Maccreanor Lavington
Michael Wilford
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Stanton Williams WilkinsonEyre
Witherford Watson Mann
Zaha Hadid Architects 

To follow this campaign please visit the website or search #architectsdeclare on Twitter.