RSUA Council round-up


RSUA Council met today with climate change at the top of the agenda.

The first proposal document was entitled, “What role should architects play in a mass programme of retrofitting existing buildings to improve energy performance in Northern Ireland?”

In summary, the proposal prepared by the RSUA retrofit working group was that:

(i) architects could provide considerable value to society by playing a leadership role in retrofitting

(ii) all but the most straightforward retrofit projects would benefit from an architect

(iii) architects should be required to demonstrate their competence in retrofit to be involved in publicly funded projects

(iv) post occupancy evaluation and sharing should be mandatory for retrofit projects where public funds, grants or loans are involved.

The second proposal document was the RSUA Position Paper on the Climate Emergency – What changes are required to our built environment and how can they be achieved?

This position paper was prepared by the RSUA Climate Emergency Committee following input from all members in 2020. It covers the following areas:

1. Existing buildings

  • 1.1 Improve energy performance of existing buildings
  • 1.2 Increase re-use of existing buildings

2. New buildings

  • 2.1 Reduce energy consumption of new buildings
  • 2.2 New buildings to be built to last longer to reduce material consumption
  • 2.3 Reduce embodied energy of new buildings

3. Travel

  • 3.1 Reduce need for travel by traditional motor vehicles through health density
  • 3.2 Reduce car use by making the alternative viable

4. Green

  • 4.1 Increase native Irish tree coverage for future timber supply
  • 4.2 Allocate green space in higher density urban areas through the planning process
  • 4.3 Improve security of food supply and reduce food miles by allocating space for urban food


5. Building materials

  • 5.1 Reduce material consumption
  • 5.2 Reduce embodied carbon in construction projects
  • 5.3 Increase use of local materials
  • 5.4 Increase use of locally recycled materials
  • 5.5 Increase use natural materials

6. Heat and power

  • 6.1 Facilitate local community heat and power production
  • 6.2 Remove carbon intensive fuels as the primary heat/cooling and power source for individual buildings

Within each topic listed above RSUA has identified the changes required and for each change required we identify actions to by taken, by whom and by when.

Within each section we also identify ideas for further consideration and finally the actions that architects can take right now.

Both proposal papers were strongly supported RSUA Council. Council members now have the opportunity to provide additional comments. The final papers are due to be launched in June 2021.

As well as the usual reports and updates members were asked to share details of influential female architects for inclusion in the Northern Ireland entry of the “Bloomsbury Global Encyclopaedia of Women in Architecture, 1960 – 2015”.

Council also agreed that RSUA would offer to provide a matching donation to the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS) of up to £1,500 on the basis that ABS organises a coffee morning fundraiser that practices in Northern Ireland can participate in over the next 12 months.

The Council will meet again on 21 June 2021.