The Guardian view on the future of buildings: make do and mend | Editorial

Demolition and construction are hugely carbon-intensive. Developers must change their ways A controversial decision by London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, to allow the demolition of a flagship Marks & Spencer store on London’s Oxford Street is one of the highest-profile instances so far of what is certain to become a wider debate about embodied carbon. This crucial term, which refers to the carbon emissions of a building over its lifetime, urgently needs to be brought into wider circulation. In the UK, buildings are estimated to be responsible for 23% of all emissions. With its millions of Victorian and Edwardian terraces, the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in the world. So the idea of a “throwaway building culture”, as Will Hurst of the Architects’ Journal describes our contemporary attitude to construction, takes some getting used to. But developers, particularly of large-scale projects, routinely look for a blank slate on which to place a new edifice. Demolition is part of what the construction industry does. Continue reading...

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