E C O L O G Y & C L I M A T E
Climate change and the broader concerns of ecological sustainability are becoming a fundamental imperative to the way Bridport plans its future.
Britain is among the most ‘de-natured’ landscapes in the world. Over millenia many of its indigenous flora and fauna has become extinct, cleared or tamed as land is claimed for agriculture, industry or human settlement. Historically, the ability to draw upon but also sustain and not exhaust the land and its resources was critical to human survival. Yet in Britain and the world at large we are now exhausting resources and degrading the environment at an alarming rate. At the same time, the unprecedented material and economic growth this has produced is not creating more happier, healthier and more fulfilled societies but one in which mental and physical health are declining and social isolation and political cohesion are increasingly an issue.
Although abundant with natural biodiversity and cultural heritage, West Dorset’s carbon emissions are above the national average because people are having to travel further to go to work, shops, schools and shops. There is also a high number of detached, older dwellings which need more energy to heat – overall houses account for 37% of Dorset’s emissions.
Climate change and the broader concerns of ecological sustainability are becoming a fundamental imperative to the way Bridport plans its future. The UK’s own 2008 Climate Change Act implies changes to the way the economy and society are run. The Government’s 25-year environment plan “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment”, proposes high-level support for environmental conservation, including managing land sustainably, recovering nature, connecting people to the environment to improve health and wellbeing, increasing resource efficiency and reducing pollution and waste.
People need support making low carbon and climate-smart choices. The COVID pandemic has prompted a revaluation of the way we work, consume and travel. Any new homes must of course be more ‘sustainably’ built, but the idea of sustainability is problematic and often unsuitably used because many of the decisions and materials used to create human dwellings increase emissions and conflict directly with natural ecologies in a landscape.
An Ecological Approach
The natural environment is stretched. Natural systems are dealing with past decades of insensitive practice in development and agriculture. In general, our lifestyles leave a damaging footprint in both the local and global environment. We can become better custodians of the land we live in and depend upon by better understanding its role as a complex ecosystem and precious habitat, and adopting better practices for how it is managed as an economic and industrial resource, how it is cultivated for agricultural or horticultural production and how it is preserved and enjoyed as an extraordinary cultural and recreational environments.
What we hope to establish through R A I S E T H E R O O F is an approach to building that advocates the use of materials that are available locally, organic and replenishable, with low-embodied energy and toxicity. We also want to emphasise the importance of working with the site – so that the building process is capable of producing an environment that is locally distinct, enhances the unique characteristics of a location’s geography, biodiversity and cultural use.