BLOG: Birmingham and the West Midlands is growing, and so too must our climate ambitions

Chetwoods Architecture’s Philippa Birch-Wood describes her hopes for Birmingham and the West Midlands as she takes up her role as UKGBC’s local network coordinator in the region.
Birmingham Bull Ring by night

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March 6, 2019

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I feel privileged to have taken up the role of UKGBC Local Network Coordinator role in Birmingham and the West Midlands. I was delighted when UKGBC events started popping up in our city, connecting us with progressive cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol. UKGBC’s presence in Birmingham has offered those with an interest in sustainability in the construction and property sector the opportunity to have a voice and connect with likeminded professionals, where there was previously very little. I want to see this group grow and become a pioneering network that shapes our city in a truly sustainable way, ensuring we are on target to meet ‘net zero’ by 2050 and play our part in limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

There is no better time to accept the challenge. The spotlight is currently on Birmingham as the West Midlands acts as a test bed for 5G technology, offering Wi-Fi connections that are about three times faster than 4G. Development is well underway for Birmingham Smithfield, the 2022 Commonwealth games and HS2, causing a ripple effect of investment in the region.

Our city was also chosen as the host for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government “Better design, Better places” conference, drawing delegates from all over the UK. This gave Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, the perfect opportunity to re-introduce attendees to what the Rough Guide has dubbed “one of the top 10 cities in the world”.

Whilst this momentum is all very positive, Birmingham lags behind other cities on targets for carbon reduction, with a target of only a 60% reduction in total CO₂ emissions by 2027, against 1990 levels. This is not good enough when climate emergency plans are in place in other cities to be carbon neutral by 2030. Birmingham was ranked 38th  out of 100 in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities index in 2018 and 27th on the “Planet” sub index, trailing behind London and Manchester in both cases. We want to ensure that everyone in the West Midlands has the tools they require to challenge these targets and push our city further up that list.

I am looking forward to meeting you all in the context of my new seconded role at UKGBC. We have some exciting events lined up for this year, the next being the Climate Resilience Roundtable at Cundall’s Birmingham offices on the 26th of March. I would love to hear your feedback and your thoughts on any subject matter you would like to focus on in the coming months.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss anything and get more involved, or if you wish to find out more about UKGBC’s local networks. I look forward to working with you.

Philippa Birch-Wood
Local Network Co-ordinator, UKGBC

@PhilippaBirch

Outside of her part-time secondment at UKGBC, Philippa is a Thrive Associate, an Architect specialising in environmental and healthy design at Chetwoods Architecture practice. In her spare time, she is the chair of Low Carbon Lichfield, a community group in her hometown, and co-founder and events coordinator for Transition Lichfield (learn more about the Transition Towns Network