University Lecturer Calls For Promotion of Sustainable Building

A Dundee University lecturer is calling for changes to taxes, government practice and education policy to promote good quality, sustainable building in Scotland.

Fionn Stevenson, director of the Masters in Architecture programme at the university, was responding to a consultation by the Scottish Executive on changes to its architecture policy. She told ministers that one of the best ways to encourage the re-use of historic buildings would be to scrap VAT on such projects, reducing their cost.

However, there also had to be much more emphasis on teaching students about how they could make a contribution to the process.

She said: "Increase the percentage of coursework relating to the adaptive re-use of buildings in schools of architecture. Currently about 75% of coursework relates to new build and 25% to re-use. This should be the other way round."

Architectural education in Scotland was 'going backwards' in terms of teaching sustainable design, she warned. She has been at the forefront of attempts to place ecological and sustainability issues at the heart of building policy and she believes the most pressing need is to lessen the damage humans are doing to the environment.

She added: "Reduction of carbon emissions and resource use are the key priorities for the Executive and should be properly reflected in its architecture policy."

At present, the Executive was not organised in the right way to address the problem of sustainability. The policy Choosing Our Future was "a collection of unrelated ideas and wish lists with no strategy or targets." Ms Stevenson said that the Executive had a 'silo' mentality that kept the work of different departments separate from each other.

The Executive is due to publish its updated architecture policy early next year.

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