Letter to Camden about Retrofitting

Climate Emergency Camden’s Built Environment Group has written to Camden Council’s Climate Board about the necessity of prioritising refurbishment over demolition and rebuilding when dealing with its own building stock. The letter is as follows.

The Greenest Building is one that already exists:

We are writing to  Camden’s Climate Board, as Camden Council moves forward as a borough signed up to taking meaningful action to address the climate emergency.

It is overwhelmingly accepted by organisations concerned with the need to bring about rapid reduction in carbon emissions, that refurbishment of existing buildings needs to be prioritised over demolition and rebuilding. We trust that you are aware of the reasons for this; please refer to the work of C40 Cities, the RIBA, Green Building Council and others.

CEC looks forward to seeing real change in Camden’s approach to its existing building stock. In the past Camden has sought to demolish and rebuild its existing buildings in order to facilitate change, and hardly ever considered retrofitting and refurbishment. This needs to change. Camden should stop wanting everything in new bricks!

In reference to the development proposal for 248-250 Camden Road, which is proposed to be demolished and rebuilt, we request that the report into the building’s possible reuse is made available to us for comment. This building does seem to be a suitable contender for retention. Going forward, we think that such reports should be available for public scrutiny, to ensure that all efforts are being made to retain existing buildings. This should include a feasibility study for an option that retains the existing building in order to allow a fair comparison to be made, including embodied carbon assessments.

The new normal for all developments should include:

• An assessment of implications of keeping the existing building.
• A report measuring embodied carbon.
• Target to keep embodied carbon to say 50% of average (so 500 kg co2/m2 roughly)

We note that the original consultation for 234-250 Camden Road on July 11th 2019 was before the outcomes of the Camden Citizens Assembly on Climate and Ecological Emergency and before the Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in early October 2019. If that process is to mean anything, the council cannot continue with business as usual and must revisit projects developed before the declaration.

As part of the declaration, the council leadership pledged to work closely with residents and community groups to tackle Climate and Ecological Emergency and to listen and learn from expertise in the borough. The Camden Road proposal is an excellent opportunity to put this new approach into practice.

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