Manchester Student Society of Architecture (MSSA) tell us about their Climate Action Group @mssaclimateaction
- Tell us about MSA Climate Action Group
Our group was formed in September 2020 by a group of passionate MSA students who got inspired after attending a Climate Literacy Workshop (organised by TRADA) and believe in making positive change by introducing this initiative. We have since made a conviction to be the voice advocating environmental literacy within the school; pushing the university to integrate sustainable principles in the curriculum, educating ourselves about the field of sustainable design and help other peers to be conscious of the matter. We believe that students have the power to act, and that our profession needs both top-down and bottom-up pressure to achieve a systemic change.
- What is the main challenge facing architecture and the built environment when it comes to climate change?
While it is self-contradictory to build more green buildings, there are many ways the construction industry could do to offset and reduce its carbon footprint. Such examples include reducing unnecessary use of steel and concrete, design multifunctional buildings that allows the reuse of existing structures and reduce building waste. Policy makers must focus on implementing immediate solutions supplementary to their ambitious long term targets. At an individual level, we must too reject wilful ignorance in our everyday life, consider alternative options to reduce our footprint and advocate people around us to join the movement.
- What is the challenge that most people do not expect?
Greenwashing has unfortunately become a trend in recent new builds. Often glorified by the public, occupiers and the press, many buildings adorned with lush greens and renewable technologies often incur excessive embodied carbon in its construction, such as using more steel and concrete support, thereby inducing setbacks to its environmental claims. Instead, we must take an unbiased approach in understanding the building’s overall energy performance, consider the carbon footprint in the building’s lifetime, and evaluate its demonstration of socially responsible values. Sustainability shouldn’t just be a tick-box exercise for architects to comply with, but a constant challenge that strives us to exceed the minimum standards. In fact, the collective effort will eventually create a butterfly effect for future generations if we all start with one positive change individually.
- In order to meet its targets, the city of Manchester must…
In order to meet its sustainability targets, the city of Manchester must first believe the impact we could create if we act collectively as a society. We must stand firm for our future, while pressurising the parliament to act swiftly and with strong urgency in making tough but bold decisions in taking climate action. This includes, but not limited to, introducing policies and incentives that promotes green transport such as carpooling, and propose initiatives that open up pockets of green spaces throughout the city.