The crowd included the Future Engineers Front (FAF) and members of the Architects Climate Action Network (Akan) who fell out of power at the start of the four-day series of protests outside both houses of Parliament.
The event attracted more than 200 organizations who converged on the streets of Westminster in a “peaceful display of strength and unity” to demand bold climate action from the government.
Speaking of her participation in ACAN, which is actually born from April 2019 XR The protests said: ‘History shows that sustained mass protests can work. That’s why we stand in solidarity with XR.
“The built environment is responsible for around 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, which is why it is important that we stand up as professionals in the built environment and make our voices heard.
We are currently building new homes that will still need to be retrofitted in order to reach our net zero targets, plus there are over 19 million existing homes that currently require this. We do not have national regulations on embodied carbon emissions, and regulation on operational capacity falls short.
“Government can and must act with more speed and ambition to tackle our poorly performing and poorly regulated built environment.”
Charlie Edmunds, founder of FAF, told AJ: ‘It is essential for those in engineering to agitate politically through direct action. Our current economy is clearly moving towards social and environmental extraction.
“Architects are effectively fossil fuel workers.”
“Architects, as such, are literal fossil fuel workers and must organize collectively toward a just transition for the sector and the broader political economy.”
AJ covers events throughout the day, including ACAN’s challenge to government on retrofitting outside of the Department of Settlement, Housing and Communities.
Readers can get involved by giving us their individual opinions on Twitter using the hashtag #The biggest one And the tag @employee.
Today’s demonstrations conclude across Whitehall and outside the DLUHC, with AJ speaking with architects and activists calling for the government to speed up efforts to impeachment, retrofitting and more.
We’ve heard demands for better policy planning, the need for lower carbon and new structures, and a national push for the First Amendment. Most importantly, we’ve heard how the practices themselves have brought about changes, and what others can do.
The Big One continues through Monday, when groups like ACAN are scheduled to hold more events over the weekend. Be sure to check back with us next week for a full write-up of the day’s events!
John Christophers, 63, the leading architect who designed the UK’s first carbon-neutral home – mod – says we need to address the emissions from our existing homes, or we’ll have no hope.
I think emissions from existing homes alone would miss out on the entire UK’s carbon budget. The government commits only 1 percent of the funds requested.
“It seems to me that the government’s role right now is to listen to the people, to listen to our consciences, and to put money where it is so that communities can do the work.”
Christopher added that leadership is also required from the government in addition to financing, and this measure is necessary now. Fortunately, the industry has made some progress, he told AJ.
If we had been doing this for the past 30 years, we would be in a very different place. For me, it’s not a sudden shift, but I’m very glad that the industry as a whole has really changed, you know, I feel like it’s changing so dramatically now and it’s great that I don’t feel alone. I feel hopeful, and I feel very optimistic.
Rachel Owens, 34, is a corporate architect Buckley Gray 2 days, which has offices in Shoreditch, Bristol and Madrid, is here with ACAN. She’s been in the practice for five years, and has been Head of Sustainability for the past year and a half.
“We advocate a number of things,” she told AJ. We want a carbon-neutral built environment. We want an ecological transformation and renewal, and we want a cultural transformation, too.
Owens said ACAN is working hard to spread knowledge about circular economies, natural materials and retrofitting within the profession – but he insisted we really need government to act more quickly. So we’re calling for regulation of embodied carbon in particular, and also a national strategy for retrofitting by the government.
The architecture and construction industry “needs to understand that it has tremendous power,” Owens said, adding: “Each of us who work in the built environment has a huge responsibility, but we can also make a huge difference. And part of that is about improving your skills in speaking to your clients.
“But the other part is about trying to get government to do more – and it’s these twin things that people in the built environment need to start doing more seriously.”
Brigitte Clements, 40, runs her own clinic, LOKI architecture In Primrose Hill, here with ACAN. She told AJ: ‘We’re advocating a lot of retrofitting focus. been lost [around] 50,000 buildings a year are only demolished.
I had a project last year where I kept part of the house, rather than demolish it, and it cost me £40,000 as a developer. This is a personal blow, it doesn’t make sense, and it needs to change.
The government needs to accompany us towards a better future
Many architecture and construction firms are taking the lead, Clements said, but she called on the government to take the lead and “escort us towards a better future,” accusing policymakers of “putting profits into the hands of those who are already demolishing buildings.” “.
“We need some smart policy changes – provisions in planning to help practitioners do the right thing,” she added.
However, Clements, who is “very optimistic” about the industry’s green future, noted that since the first XR protests in 2019, the movement has grown to include “ordinary people” as well as radical activists.
Until a few years ago, when I was doing a project focused on embodied carbon, no one was really talking about it. But now, it’s on everyone’s lips. So there is a huge shift in knowledge.
Matthew Clube told AJ outside the DLHUC: “The financial condition of the retrofit has to stand out on its own. [The government] Needs to abolish VAT. Although there are some inscriptions on the wall when installing and so on, they should be comprehensive in everything.
And we need to start calculating embodied carbon. About 60 percent of the carbon in a building comes from the construction phase. It’s crazy that we don’t do anything about it.
Speaking to AJ before her speech to protesters, Amy Corr of Civic Square said she hoped the public would start to notice the built environment because of the poor insulation.
It became really clear to the audience [in terms of insulation]that this is not okay.
She adds: “We don’t have carbon budgets for this. We can’t run a race to grab as many resources as possible as fast as we can.
ACAN members are scheduled to speak outside the DLUHC at 12:30 p.m. to call for action on retrofitting and impeachment.
Main characters are set to include Immy Kaur from Civic Square, John Christopher from Zero Carbon House, and Chris Procter Co-founder of Procter-Rihl Architects.
Architects (AD) announced that the signatories will also be at the protests. A spokesperson said: “AD fully supports The Big One and will protest alongside others. The IPCC’s latest report is a stark reminder that governments globally are not doing enough – including in the UK.
“[We are] Focus efforts on working with policymakers in 2023 to provide strategies for achieving more regenerative design. Our industry has solutions and should call on UK and global governments to do more now, to be ambitious and invest in those solutions. A zero-world with all it has to offer – less pollution, more biodiversity, and better social justice – is one worth fighting for.
Zanna Dean, co-founder of London-based Tread Studio, is among the demonstrators outside Division of Settlement, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) today.
Speaking to AJ, she advocated a mass retrofit strategy to get people out of fuel poverty and cut back on carbon.
“[It is about] Getting it right the first time with a fabric-first approach, with good ventilation, trying to cut fuel costs, get people out of fuel poverty, and also create healthy environments to live in.
So what we want is a comprehensive and developed retrofit with appropriate quality and standards, which is difficult to achieve.
“It’s time to strive for quality and standards so that people’s actual quality of life improves as well as fuel costs.”
Diane Moyes, 76, a former geography teacher, protests outside DLUHC with an XR Cumbria. Moyes said: “We don’t feel like the government is really listening. The talk is talking. But in terms of what has been accomplished, it is negligible.”
I mean, we’re still building zero carbon homes, 13 years after this government. We should build more with wood and natural materials. The concrete and cement industry is very carbon intensive, but it often goes unmentioned.
The steel industry in Europe is working hard to develop greener ways of making steel. But we can recycle more steel. It is up to each sector. But you need a whole-of-government path for people to see that it’s worth going down that path.
“Because right now, [builders/developers] Always use the cheapest way. And we need government to make these old ways a lot more affordable.
Picket lines broke out in Whitehall at 7am this morning despite the gray skies over Westminster.
Members of the public, community groups and architects continue to gather outside key government departments to demand climate action this morning.
Expect The Big One’s opening act to begin around 11 a.m., with keynotes from the XR members.