Concrete and Steel are very long-lasting materials. “Design for durability – long life, loose fit with a 100-year life span as standard.” advocates Elaine Toogood of the Concrete Society. “Demolition should not be a word.“ The panel agreed that within whole life carbon calculations, we need to have more emphasis on what happens at the end of a building’s life. Prof Michael Ramage called for VAT to be reduced on renovation – bringing it in line with new build - alongside a focus on reusing and repurposing buildings where possible, to avoid the need for construction of new buildings. He continued "If ‘demolition’ is deemed the only option, ‘deconstruction’ should become the norm, to facilitate the reuse of materials."
Joe Jack: “Rather than recycling, there needs to be a wider, more natural network around circular economy and how to implement it: Networks, Storage made available, cataloguing processes, enabling materials to be stored, checked and warrantied within a resource you can access. This needs to happen at scale and be nationally mandated, with the role of government being to take on the risk of insurance and warranty.“ Prof. Ramage added “Performance verification and the insurance market need to catch up.” with Joe Jack agreeing: "That would be a very strong signal that this is something that government is underwriting – which would unlock commercial opportunities which they want the private sector to take on."
Summary by Jenny Stephens
This session of the Environmental Audit Committee into the Sustainability of the Built Environment took place on Wednesday 17 Nov 2021 as two sessions with the following witnesses:
Witness(es): Michael H. Ramage, Director, Centre for Natural Material Innovation, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge; Louisa Bowles, Representative, LETI (London Energy Transformation Initiative), Head of Sustainability, Hawkins Brown Architects LLP; Dr Joe Jack Williams, Associate, Researcher, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios; Elaine Toogood, Head of Architecture, MPA The Concrete Centre, Representative, Mineral Products Association
Witness(es): Will Arnold, Head of Climate Action, The Institution of Structural Engineers; Sam Liptrott, Director, OFR Consultants, Fire and Risk Consultants; Rhian Williams, Principal Strategic Planner (London Plan), Greater London Authority
The full session can be viewed here and the briefing note is available here.