Sustainable Accreditation for Architects & Designers, RIAS Scheme

Sustainable Architecture Accreditation Scotland

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Accreditation Scheme for sustainable building designers

Sustainable Architecture Accreditation

RIAS Accreditation

The RIAS (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) has scored a world first on 1st February, launching an accreditation scheme for sustainable building designers. With the G8 summit to be held in Scotland in the summer, this is an ideal time for Scotland to show what it is doing to tackle global problems.

“Recognising solid achievement in buildings that have been in use for at least a year, helps encourage other professionals to the lift their game, and also helps clients find chartered architects with the skills for tomorrow” said Sebastian Tombs, RIAS Chief Executive.

“This achievement reflects a genuine partnership process” said Sandy Halliday of Gaia Research, who first envisaged this as an outcome of her work in 2001. “With DTI and the Ecological Building Society support I was able to create learning packages for building design professionals, and at the associated events, ask professionals about accreditation; they were very positive!”

In 2003, Sust. The Lighthouse on Sustainability, with funds from the Scottish Executive’s Architecture Policy Unit, enabled the RIAS to pilot a scheme. This accredited 13 chartered architects in the summer of 2004. With some refinements, the full scheme is now being launched. Lori McElroy now running Sust. welcomed the development. “While there are numerous schemes for assessing the environmental characteristics of buildings around the world, this is the only one that tests the skills and experience of the designers” she said. “I hope this takes off, and encourages other disciplines like Building Services Engineers to follow suit”.

Raymond Young OBE, a member of the UK Sustainable Development Commission chaired the assessment panel with Fionn Stevenson of Duncan of Jordanstone College, Dundee, and Lori McElroy. Young who has just been appointed Chair of Architecture & Design Scotland, chaired the events at the Scottish Parliament building, and said “The environmental challenges facing us are huge, but the built environment can play a major part in tackling them: skilled architects and designers are therefore crucial to our long-term survival”.
Four chartered architects presented their work – each accredited at different levels, but each with a star rating for innovation. These were:

Tom Morton – ARC Architects
Gokay Deveci – G Deveci Chartered Architect
John Gilbert – John Gilbert Architects
Howard Liddell – Gaia Architects

An exhibition, created by Chris Stewart Architects, on display in the Garden Lobby, from 31 January to 4 February, illustrates projects by the 13 accredited chartered architects, highlighting their environmental credentials.

The whole event at the Scottish Parliament, was hosted by Robin Harper MSP, who said:
“These are exciting days for architecture. This groundbreaking scheme offers the opportunity for Scotland to take a global lead in sustainable building design. The Parliament is a fitting venue for the launch as it has such an inspiring design combined with high environmental standards.

Of course, sustainable design should apply to buildings in all sectors – domestic, public and business. Better design in Scottish housing is desperately needed to help end fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency. Hopefully this scheme will make this more likely by bringing together architects with the ideas and vision to tackle these problems”
In addition, some of the green aspects of the Parliament Building itself were explained, by John Kinsley of RMJM Architects, Edinburgh. Once the building has been in full use for a year, Mr Kinsley plans to apply for accreditation, too.

Sustainable Architecture Accreditation

1 Feb 2005

Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable Timber Architecture

The event programme:

10 Welcome to Holyrood
Robin Harper MSP
John Kinsley RMJM: the Scottish Parliament
10.05 Accreditation: Introduction Raymond Young OBE
10.10 Background: Sandy Halliday, Gaia Research
Tom Morton of ARC Architects
Gokay Deveci of G Deveci Chartered Architect
John Gilbert of John Gilbert Architects
Howard Liddell of Gaia Architects

The exhibition highlights the following aspects of buildings:

Buildings in the related exhibition of accredited architects’ works, are identified as having contributed to sustainable design through addressing the following 18 aspects:

Form, Fabric, Orientation
Indoor Health
Benign Materials
Energy Efficiency
Water Economy
Lifecycle Costing
Embodied Energy
Post Occupancy Evaluation
Future Adaptability
Construction Methods
Waste Minimisation, Recycling and Deconstruction
Renewable Energy
Biodiversity Issues
Tools and Benchmarking
Community Involvement
Interdisciplinary Design
Triple Bottom Line


The RIAS ran a pilot in sustainable design accreditation in 2003/2004, funded by Sust: The Lighthouse on Sustainability, a campaign to raise awareness of sustainable design in the built environment. The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture Design and the City has devised the campaign on behalf of the Scottish Executive to support the aims of its recently published “Meeting the Needs” document. The campaign is funded by the Scottish Executive’s Sustainable Action Fund.
This recognises four classes of skill based in built work, with the special * given in recognition of innovation.
Submissions by applicants provide evidence of their career, qualifications and specialist areas of knowledge or activity; and a range of project work. These are assessed by independent peer review. Accreditation remains in place for 5 years, subject to upgrading or renewal.
LEVEL D Evidence of significant application of at least THREE of the six criteria in at least ONE domestic or other domestic-scale design project (minimum 40 sq. metres habitable).
LEVEL C As Level D plus evidence of holistic integration of sustainable design incorporating FIVE or more of the six criteria, in at least TWO domestic or other projects of up to 1000 m², with evidence of professional inter-disciplinary working.
LEVEL B As Level C plus evidence of significant application of at least FIVE of the six criteria, appropriate for the context, and integration of sustainable design principles with other disciplines in THREE projects of moderate scale ie in excess of 1000 m² and using acknowledged and appropriate benchmarks and tools.
LEVEL A As Level B plus evidence of the application of all SIX criteria ie holistic integration of sustainable construction principles involving financial, social and environmental considerations in THREE projects of a significant scale, ie £3m plus and 3000 m² scale.
STAR * RATING Any of the above Levels can attract a *star rating, allocated for evidence of innovation in pursuit of sustainable development; the application of structural, environmental and architectural detail; and integration with non-construction professions and issues. The * rating is intended to reflect the advancement of knowledge through serious research.

A* Howard Liddell, Gaia Architects, The Monastery, 2 Hart Street Lane, Edinburgh
B* John Gilbert, John Gilbert Architects, 4C1 Templeton Business Centre, Templeton Street, Glasgow
B* Chris Morgan, Locate Architects, 30 High Street, Portobello, Edinburgh
B Roan Rutherford, Austin-Smith: Lord, 202 Bath Street, Glasgow
C* Gokay Deveci, Binghill, Blairs, South Deeside Road, Aberdeen
C* Jenny Humphreys, Simpson & Brown, St Ninians Manse, Quayside Street, Edinburgh
C David Somerville, Architect, Balchraggan, Abriachan, Inverness
C Gordon Fleming, ARP Lorimer & Associates, 11 Wellington Square, Ayr
C Nick Domminney, Gareth Hoskins Architects, Atlantic Chambers, 45 Hope Street, Glasgow
D* Tom Morton, ARC Architects, 69 Burnside, Auchtermuchty, Fife
D Gillian Hanley, Oliver Chapman Architects, 313 Cowgate, Edinburgh
D Sue Thornley, Michael & Sue Thornley Architects, 51 St Vincent Crescent, Glasgow
D John Manning, John Manning Chartered Architect, Dirnanean, Enochdhu, Blairgowrie, Perthshire

Location: Scotland

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Scottish Building News

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Buildings / photos for the Sustainable Accreditation for Architects & Designers page welcome