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Tomás Coelho
Feb 21, 2022
In Final Submissions
Engineering practices within the building industry have shifted their focus to the impact that their buildings have on the environment. This has led to the introduction of certification processes such as LEED and BREEAM, which ensure that a building is focused on being as sustainable as possible, however, these schemes are not without their faults. Our certification scheme, Sustainable and Accessible Building Assessment (SABA), aims to address these faults. These certifications can be very hard to obtain but becomes significantly easier through the appointment of expensive consultants to get you through your accreditation or by purchasing more expensive building components, such as advanced cooling systems. This makes achieving certification almost impossible for smaller businesses, who cannot afford to hire these advisors or be allowed to come up with low-cost, creative solutions to achieve a higher certification. Furthermore, these schemes seem to value token gestures, such as installing bike racks, as similar importance to things that make a larger difference, like energy efficiency. This system allows companies to gain higher accreditation by effectively greenwashing their buildings, without focusing on aspects making a real impact. SABA will be set up as a non-governmental organisation with three layers of governance: a global team that will liaise with international organisations such as the United Nations to consider different needs and responsibilities of countries around the world; local teams based in regions or states that will handle the certification process; and national teams which will co-ordinate their respective local teams and communicate between the global and local teams. The SABA rating system will operate using percentage basis and focus on metrics which really drive environmental change, such as the use of local and sustainable materials or use of renewable energy. These important factors will be weighted more heavily than some other factors, like having access to public transport, meaning if a building’s efficiency is failing it cannot be overlooked through lower impact additions. SABA will also deduct points for companies seen to be causing negative impacts on the environment, which is not the case for other rating systems. Also, unlike other rating systems, SABA will check buildings annually, using energy usages and occupier feedback forms to assess them throughout the entirety of their lifecycle. SABA’s new tax system will use a building’s rating alongside a company's total emissions and a building use factor to calculate the amount of tax a company owes for each building. This will encourage companies to reduce their carbon footprint, increasing the responsibility of large companies and allowing small companies to join the certification process. The tax collected will be partly used to sustain SABA’s operations which avoids companies from paying sign-up fees, massively lowering the entry barrier for smaller companies. All left over money will be returned to the local authority from which it was collected. This extra income will be allocated to fund sustainable projects within local communities, and offer grants to regenerate older buildings, so that they too can become certified. Furthermore, SABA will fund innovative design projects to give rise to low-cost energy saving alternatives that could be implemented worldwide. #practice #responsible #sustainable #inclusive #accessible
Tomás Coelho
Feb 10, 2022
In Concept Notes Workspace
Within the engineering practice there has been an increasing focus on the environmental impact of new buildings, with the construction sector contributing to a massive 38% of the total global emissions (in 2019). This has led to the introduction of LEED and BREEAM certification to ensure these buildings are focused on their environmental impact. However, these certification schemes are not perfect. Research has shown that LEED certified buildings can often be less energy efficient than a non-certified case; this is due to the flawed marking scheme for unweighted token environmental changes to construction. The flaws are further highlighted by supplying additional points for companies hiring LEED advisors; one study found that 99.7% of all successful applications used this to their advantage. Further, after the building has achieved its certification, any negative changes can be implemented without affecting their environmental rating. Our team proposes a replacement of the certification process that eliminates the exclusivity of these existing certifications. A more accessible certification process will allow smaller businesses an opportunity to become part of a globally responsible construction sector by encouraging the design of more environmentally friendly buildings. Addressing smaller companies will create a more equitable playing field in the construction sector. This certification will focus on and highlight companies actively being more sustainable throughout a building’s full lifecycle, rather than using gestures that do not genuinely reduce a company’s emissions. Rather than giving large tax breaks to companies that have certifications, companies that don’t meet the criteria should be taxed. The tax could be based on a company’s total emissions, thus encouraging larger companies to further reduce their emissions, and avoiding small companies being disproportionately affected. This tax can then be used locally to fund regenerative schemes in deprived areas. #practice #responsible #inclusive

Tomás Coelho

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