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The C word — shortcuts to cutting carbon

The C word — shortcuts to cutting carbon


Breathe architecture wants architects to go green, 100% GreenPower, to be specific, in three simple ways. 

Breathe Architecture hosted an event at Tempo Rubato, looking at the C word, climate change, reducing carbon emissions from a built industry perspective and introducing architects to suppliers who have committed to making these changes. 

The C word — shortcuts to cutting carbon, was hosted by Breathe design director and Australian Design Review 30UNDER30 judge and mentor Jeremy McLeod, who shared insights and steps to solve the operational carbon problem effortlessly.

Architects, after all, play a significant role when it comes to the impact of climate change.

“Our buildings and how we power them have the biggest impact on carbon and climate change,” said McLeod.

Three steps

McLeod presented a three-step approach to achieving zero operational carbon in building design, beginning with electrifying all building systems and eliminating the use of gas. 

This would result in improved efficiency and reduced environmental impact of electric heating, cooling, and hot water systems. 

Secondly, the adoption of green power sources, recommending that all buildings commit to 100% certified green power. This commitment to renewable energy not only reduces emissions but also exerts market pressure on polluting energy companies to invest in renewables.

When it comes to the build, size matters, and so does the thermal efficiency in building design. McLeod urges architects to consider smaller, more efficient designs and aim for higher thermal efficiency ratings.

The final step is certification, McLeod explains the importance of ensuring that GreenPower and annual carbon audits are written into owners corporation rules of a build. 

Additionally, McLeod encourages architects to focus on using sustainable materials, such as geopolymer concrete, carbon-neutral bricks and magnesium oxide board. 

These choices can significantly reduce embodied carbon in construction. The importance of measurement and lifecycle assessment in quantifying the carbon footprint of buildings is crucial.  

Taking action 

The message is clear, there is no more ‘waiting for tomorrow’ or ‘it’s too hard’.

Architects have the power to impact climate change through sustainable building design, electrification, green energy adoption, and the reduction of embodied carbon in materials. 

The importance of taking action now and not succumbing to cynicism is crucial, “cynicism is the killer of anyone doing anything,” concluded McLeod.

Read Jeremy McLeod’s reflection on being a 30UNDER30 mentor and judge for Architects and Innovators.


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