RIBA Outlines Spending Initiatives Ahead Of The Budget To Create A Fairer More Prosperous Society For Everyone
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called on the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak to make provision in the next budget for several design and procurement initiatives.
RIBA says these initiatives will help the government meet its ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, while simultaneously creating buildings which better serve their purpose and deliver greater economic benefits.
In its annual Budget representation letter, released on February 17th, RIBA President Professor Alan M Jones, asks the Treasury to make provision for the following four initiatives:
Take account of social value when awarding government contracts
-Mandate the use of Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) on all public sector projects
-Establish a fairer funding model for next-generation architects
-Provide support for sustainable and inclusive growth and placemaking
-Encouraging social value through government procurement
Procurement for ‘works’ and ‘facilities’ are two of the largest areas of government expenditure. But the UK Government often fails to use its spending power to drive more meaningful long-term benefits for communities.
Buildings are around for a long time and have a role to play in helping to reduce carbon emissions – not just during their construction – but across their entire lifecycle. Properly designed buildings can also help improve community cohesion while improving the health and wellbeing of occupants.
RIBA is, therefore, calling on the Government to take an outcomes-based approach during the procurement and contract stages of public sector projects. This should optimise the economic, environmental and social benefits and deliver superior value for the taxpayer.
Make Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) mandatory for all public sector projects
RIBA admits there is a lack of accurate information about how well new buildings meet the needs and requirements of their occupants. This represents a huge barrier to improving the quality and sustainability of next-generation buildings.
Not having access to this information results in poor living conditions and additional costs both of which could be prevented by having access to more accurate information. For example, RIBA’s report Better Spaces for Learning highlights that only 5% of school buildings can be classified as operating efficiently. This results in additional costs of £150 million per year, most of which could be avoided with better design.
To combat this waste, RIBA recommends Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) are made mandatory on all public sector projects. It is estimated this will add 0.1%–0.25% to upfront build costs but will result in improved efficiency and lower maintenance costs across the building’s lifecycle.
Better funding for next-generation architects
Training to become an architect is a seven-year commitment for most students. Five of those years are spent in university while the final two years are spent practising on the job. This represents a huge financial burden for universities who are struggling to fund the cost of delivering courses.
This is partly because architecture is classified as an intermediate-cost (Price-C) subject. While the growing demands of developing the technical and competency skills of architects is also putting pressure on schools ability to provide adequate training.
RIBA, therefore, recommends that architecture is re-classified as a Price-B group course alongside comparable subjects such as Civil Engineering. This will free up another £1,500 of funding per student allowing architecture schools to dedicate more resources to training the next generation of architects.
Support conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth
The future prosperity of the UK is dependent on the quality, sustainability and liveability of our towns and cities. RIBA is, therefore, calling on the Government to rethink how future developments are planned and delivered so that they deliver the housing improvements, community involvement and economic benefits future generations need.
To do this they propose investing in local government to increase capacity and improve skills which should translate to better design and funding decisions. To prove the effectiveness of the strategy RIBA highlighted its Future Place program which focused the resources of national agencies and funding bodies to deliver innovative design, delivery and funding models at a local level.
Working together to build a better future for everyone
By persuading the Chancellor to implement the above initiatives, RIBA hopes to create an environment which fosters innovation and inspires creativity. This will allow architects to create next-generation buildings which help the UK meet its ambitious emissions target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.
The measures will also help to create buildings which better serve their occupants while supporting the government’s integrated communities action plan. This initiative aims to create communities where people can live, learn and work together, whatever their background. The net result should be a more prosperous and fairer society for everyone.