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The contested privileging of zero carbon: plausibility, persuasiveness and professionalism

Green, S. D. ORCID: and Sergeeva, N. ORCID: (2020) The contested privileging of zero carbon: plausibility, persuasiveness and professionalism. Building & Cities, 1 (12). pp. 491-503. ISSN 2632-6655

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5334/bc.49


The global policy challenge of responding to climate change comprises a ‘super-wicked’ problem which consistently defies solution. Despite the UK Government’s commitment to zero carbon by 2050 there is little clarity on how this ambitious target is going to be achieved. Even on the level of individual buildings there is a perennial risk of unintended consequences if top-down targets are pursued in isolation of other considerations. The quest for zero carbon is hence embedded within ongoing processes of narrative contestation, and inextricably intertwined with issues of professional identity. It is contended that design is an inherently social process which continues throughout a building’s life-cycle. It is within this context that designers seek to accommodate zero-carbon targets alongside a multiple of other priorities. Hence any radical shift in the nature of educational provision may well prove to be counter-productive. Yet much more could undoubtedly be done during education to incubate the quest for low carbon as an essential component of professional identity. There is a need for professionals continuously to hold others to account on the basis of the plausibility of their zero carbon narratives. Of equal importance is the need to ensure that built environment professionals continue to respond to the changing policy landscape.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:91743
Publisher:Ubiquity Press


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