Roderick James Architects                            SBE0020

Written evidence from Roderick James Architects






Zero Carbon House for COP26




The following notes and images are in support of a proposal to construct a temporary building on a vacant site very close to the COP26 campus in Glasgow.







The building is a small 1 bedroom house with mezzanine studio, roughly 10m by 5m footprint.



In November 2021 the eyes of the world will be focused on the United Kingdom as we host the COP26 Climate Conference. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead by example, to show the world how we can build sustainably using timber.



The building, operation and maintenance of domestic buildings accounts for 27% of total UK carbon emissions


The UK Government has committed to becoming Net Zero by 2050


We need to build 350,000 new homes per year to meet current demand


An average 100sqm house at current standard emits 300 tonnes of CO2


That’s 100 million tonnes of CO2, or 100 million trees (per year) to offset.


Using timber in construction would help avoid this problem completely.


We already have the solutions to the climate emergency, now it is time to put the theories into action. 




It is vital that the houses we are building now are truly sustainable, with low embodied and operational  carbon. They must last longer than many of their predecessors, and when they come to the end of their lives, they must be easily dismantled and recycled.


We can do this, using timber.



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In the last 20 years we have demolished over 100,000 homes, many of them concrete blocks from the 1960s.

In many cases the local council were still paying the mortgage on these buildings.

Our first option should always be to re-use existing buildings wherever possible.


The house we have designed for COP will be constructed using homegrown timber from BSW Sawmills, as a showcase for what we can build in Scotland with the timber we have readily available – C16 Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir for the structure, Larch for the cladding and internal lining boards.


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The house has been designed to be recycled at the end of its life, so can easily be dismantled. After COP26 it will be taken down and rebuilt on a rural site near Aviemore. Other materials like the metal roofing, windows, doors and internal fittings will also be re-used.


We have conducted studies to show how much carbon can be captured by the timber in this house type, with initial results showing we are well in advance of current RIBA targets for housing in 2030.


This house can be described as a carbon storage facility, effectively doubling the lifespan of the timber, from 60 years growth, with another 60-100year lifespan for the house. After deconstruction, the majority of the timber structure can be re-used or recycled as woodfibre insulation for more timber houses.



James Robb of WSP has provided a Life Cycle Assessment of the embodied carbon for one of these houses.


We are already well below current target figures for embodied carbon.


Current Benchmarks allow for around 300 tonnes of CO2e over a 60 year lifetime, with the majority being Operational Carbon for heating, power and lighting. As we transition to 100% renewable power, and self generation, the embodied carbon becomes a much larger proportion of the overall lifecycle footprint.


Our Home Grown Timber Homes are already well below the RIBA 2030 targets, with this particular house achieving negative embodied carbon figures due to the carbon sequestered in the timber.


We have identified and secured a site on the south side of Pacific Quay.

The site is currently owned by Scottish Enterprise, they have indicated that they are very supportive of this proposal and would be happy for us to use the site for this purpose.

The UK Government COP26 event organisers have also given their approval.

We also have the full support of the RIAS and GIA.




We are now looking for funding support to match the levels already provided by our clients, BSW Timber and Reidhaven Estate. We are approaching Public and Private enterprises to raise approximately £150k in sponsorship and grant funding. So far we have raised around £120k.


Please contact us if you are interested in being involved in this exciting opportunity.


All Partners in this project will have the opportunity to use the building as exhibition space for marketing and publicity.



Yours faithfully,



Peter Smith

For Roderick James Architects.


May 2021