University of Brighton's sustainable construction expert Duncan Baker-Brown is leading COP27 debates on how to decarbonise global construction.
16 November 2022
A practising architect, academic, environmental activist and author of The Re-Use Atlas: a designer's guide towards a circular economy, Duncan Baker-Brown is attending the climate change conference in Egypt as co-chair of RIBA's Climate Task and Finish Group.
Baker-Brown's lecturing in architecture at University of Brighton is an example of the university's commitment to providing practical responses to key global challenges such as climate change, as well as input to diverse initiatives around creating sustainable and creative economies.
Roughly half of the raw materials extracted from the planet each year go into the world’s built environment, and construction creates an estimated third of the world's overall waste, and at least 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Duncan Baker Brown (centre) in debate at COP27
Duncan Baker-Brown inside The Waste House
As a showcase for his insights into how to slash the huge climate change impacts of the construction industry, in 2013 Baker-Brown built the Brighton Waste House on the University of Brighton's City campus using over 90% of materials needlessly classed as 'waste' that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.
On Thursday 17 November (1000 GMT), Duncan will chair a COP27 debate entitled How to implement the ambitions for decarbonising the built environment in long-term climate action plans, bringing together leaders in the built environment sector to discuss how the ambitions to reduce energy demand in buildings and decarbonise the construction sector by 40% by 2030 can be implemented. You can watch the session live on the GlobalABC website.
This follows on from Duncan's involvement in two earlier debates at COP27 looking at paths to decarbonise the construction sector at both the global and local level, in order to drive a fair and practical path towards global net zero.
Duncan has also played a key role in crafting Brighton & Hove's Circular Economy Routemap published earlier this year, which sets out an action plan behind a sustainable green growth strategy for the city to 2035. The University of Brighton is also at the heart of regional plans looking at carrying out green retrofits of thousands of local authority houses which will slash both energy bills and carbon emissions.
Writing for the RIBA Journal about the key role of architects and designers, Duncan said: “During the design of a building, we make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions about what our buildings are made of and how they should be constructed... We need to become ‘urban miners’ and re-work/re-use previously made buildings, components, and material sources. We need to mine the anthropocene - the human-made geological layer surrounding planet Earth - rather than dig up new material.”