Jan 10, 2021

Zero Carbon: Can Built Environment Education Deliver?


Monday 8 February 2021, 9 – 10 am PST

The climate emergency means the built environment will have to be zero carbon. All new buildings must be zero carbon by 2030 and the existing building stock will require significant retrofitting to be carbon neutral by 2050.  A whole-life approach to operational and embodied carbon is essential, which will require mainstreaming a range of decarbonization skills in all built environment professions.

Education and training are a key means to help address the climate emergency by ensuring a critical mass of entrants to the professions have the necessary ethics, knowledge, skills and competences to achieve a zero-carbon built environment. Is the current higher education curricula for built environment professionals adequate to meet this challenge?  What can be done to positively influence the situation?

In November 2020, the refereed journal Buildings & Cities (B&C) published a special issue ‘Education and Training: Mainstreaming Zero Carbon’ guest edited by Fionn Stevenson and Alison Kwok. All papers are free to access: bit.ly/3miSAGg. The special issue raised three challenges:

  • How can education and training be rapidly changed to ensure the creation of zero-carbon built environments?
  • How can this transition be implemented successfully?
  • What positive examples and models can be drawn upon or adapted?

This virtual event will use the B&C special issue as the basis for an in-depth examination of what constitutes a rapid change agenda and roadmap for built environment education.  It specifically seeks solutions that are top-down as well as bottom-up and asks for a new range of interdependent processes to occur, particularly in:

  • central government
  • accreditation bodies and professional institutes
  • universities
  • departments
  • NGOs

4 brief presentations (5 minutes each) are followed by a set of 2 curated responses (3 minutes each) from senior representatives on how education & training needs to change and their role(s) in a roadmap for change. A Q&A session allows participants an opportunity to contribute.  Selected papers from the special issue embrace several of the processes for how this transition is taking place.


  • Anthony Hickling (Carbon Leadership Forum)


  • Fionn Stevenson (University of Sheffield) & Alison Kwok (University of Oregon)


  • Gavin Killip “A reform agenda for construction education and practice” (University of Oxford)
  • Katy Janda “Preparing ‘middle actors’ to deliver zero-carbon building transitions” (University College London)
  • Malini Srivastava “Cooperative learning in design studios: a pedagogy for net-positive performance” (University of Minnesota)


  • Marsha Maytum (Practitioner, Educator, 2019 AIA COTE chair)
  • Steph Carlisle (CLF researcher, Practitioner and University of Pennsylvania)



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