Achieving zero-carbon architecture is “the biggest challenge we have” says Alexandra Hagen of White Arkitekter

Portrait of White Arkitekter's Alexandra Hagen

Swedish architecture firm White Arkitekter has pledged that every building it designs will be carbon neutral by 2030.

Alexandra Hagen, the firm’s CEO, made the pledge at a panel discussion organised by Dezeen in Stockholm earlier this week.

“At White Arkitekter have made the promise that by the end of the decade all of our projects will be carbon neutral,” said Hagen.

The discussion, organised to celebrate the launch of Dezeen Awards 2020, centred on the priorities for architects and designers over the coming decade.

Portrait of White Arkitekter's Alexandra Hagen
White Arkitekter’s CEO, Alexandra Hagen, made the pledge at the discussion organised by Dezeen

“Climate change is the most important challenge for the future for this decade,” said Hagen, who is a judge for the 2020 edition of Dezeen Awards. “We know that the materials used for products and for buildings are the major cause of carbon emissions.”

“So we have to use our abilities as designers to transform into a circular economy.”

Fellow panellists Annika Eklund of Bolon, Eero Koivisto of Claesson Koivisto Rune and Andreas Bozarth Fornell of Specific Generic all agreed that addressing climate change is the key priority for architects and designers over the coming decade.

White Arkitekter joins British architects Foster & Partners and Mikhail Riches, who have both promised to shift towards zero-carbon construction.

Norwegian firm Snøhetta has gone further, declaring that all its projects will absorb more carbon than they emit within 20 years.

White Arkitekter, which is headquartered in Gothenburg and employs 800 people, sets out its plans for zero-carbon buildings on its website.

“The goal is to have a minimum of CO2 emissions from materials and energy throughout the life cycle of every building and to balance all emissions with climate-positive initiatives,” it states.

Hagen said that the firm has already completed 25 carbon-neutral projects in the past three years, but this represents just a fraction of the 3,000 projects currently underway.

“Moving from one per cent to 100 per cent carbon-neutral projects in 10 years in the biggest challenge we have,” she said.

Alexandra Hagen of White Arkitekter on Dezeen's panel at Stockholm Design Week 2020
She said the move to make buildings carbon neutral in 10 years is the “biggest challenge we have”

She added that her company’s long-term goal is to create buildings that have a positive impact on the environment, rather than simply being neutral.

“We believe that human beings, like any other living beings on the planet, need to contribute to the ecosystem rather than taking away from it,” she said. “So that is definitely the goal.”

Achieving zero-carbon or carbon-negative construction has become a key objective for architecture as the profession struggles to address its impact on climate change, with the construction industry responsible for 40 per cent of global carbon emissions.

The Dezeen Awards 2020 launch event took place at Nordiska Galleriet in Stockholm on 4 February, during Stockholm Design Week.

Dezeen Awards is open for entries until 2 June.

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