The climate crisis and the built environment: mitigation and adaptation lessons for Northern Ireland

Proposed RIBA Curriculum Topic:  Sustainable architecture

We live in a time of a planetary emergency, a time of a worsening climate crisis and the sixth great mass extinction of life on earth.  And our time for decisive action is running out.  But what does the climate crisis mean for Northern Ireland both in the mitigating steps we need to take now to address the root causes and also what adaptive strategies do we need to make? The built environment has a strategic role to play in meeting these challenges and in understanding how contemporary design can shape the trajectory we take. Not least since in the UK for example, the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, with almost half of this is from energy used in buildings.

Initiatives such as the Place-Based Climate Action Network can provide valuable perspectives in understanding the issues and the Belfast Climate Commission has recently produced a Zero Carbon Roadmap for the City.  RSUA has invited Professor John Barry to deliver this one-hour lecture on key considerations for sustainable design to help inform the profession’s response to the climate and ecological emergency.

Course content

This session will consider the following areas:

  • Overview of climate and energy transition scenarios for Northern Ireland;
  • How can building designers, planners and others involved in the built environment tackle the cause and minimise the impacts of climate change in Northern Ireland?;
  • What steps can be taken to reduce the negative effects of climate change in Northern Ireland;
  • How we can deliver on the net-zero carbon roadmap for Belfast;
  • Questions and answers


Professor John Barry is a professor of Green Political Economy in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and Co-Director of the Centre for Sustainability Equality and Climate Action at Queen’s University Belfast and his areas of specialism are green and post-growth political economy, environmental ethics, climate change and low carbon energy transitions.  John is also co-Chair of the Belfast Climate Commission and was a Green Party councillor on Ards and North Down council from 2011-2018.