Following on from the world and industry-wide reaction to the climate emergency, and the Architect’s Journal’s #retrofirst campaign, is retrofit truly the way forward for the built environment and to work towards achieving net-zero carbon? After AKT II’s many successful retrofit projects in London, the director of our Manchester Office, Raj Takhar, thinks so. In this article, Raj details how we can apply these successes to existing buildings in Manchester, Leeds and the entire North West of England.
Achieving net-zero carbon
In 2019, after the movement of the global climate strike, the built environment industry united and stated that we could and would do more to tackle the climate crisis. Many UK cities aimed for the nationwide 2050 net-zero carbon goal, but in the North West of England cities, including Manchester, declared they would drive the initiative further and faster, aiming for a 2038 target – in just 18 years. The clock is ticking, so everyone needs to work together to make sure we get it right, the first time. To achieve zero embodied energy in our building infrastructure a key step will be to prioritise retrofitting buildings.
On early stages of projects, the fundamental questions asked, relating to embodied carbon, need to be, firstly, whether a new building is needed, followed by can an existing building be improved and what can be reused from foundations and the frame to the doors, windows and more. At AKT II we believe the default position – in any city centre development – should be to look into the opportunity to reuse as much of the building as possible before any consideration of demolishing and rebuilding.