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Criteria Review: Life Safety & Climate Change


On 19 July 2019 the ARB Board decided that targeted work should be undertaken to consider:

  • the competencies required for those entering the Register in respect of fire/life safety design
  • whether the Criteria should be changed and/or supported by further guidance on the coverage of matters regarding climate change

The work will commence in January 2020 and is expected to conclude by the Autumn of 2020.


The ARB Board has the statutory duty of determining the qualifications and practical experience required to join the Architects Register and become an architect, under the UK route to registration.

The Criteria for the Prescription of Qualifications (the Criteria) provide information to students, institutions and those looking to sit the Prescribed Examination on the standards, attributes, knowledge, understanding and abilities that individuals must meet for registration. They also reassure those who may use their services that UK architects have the appropriate minimum levels of skills and experience.

The current Criteria have been in operation since 2011. They are held in common with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a professional body who use the Criteria to approve programmes for the purposes of becoming a membership of their organisation. Parts 1 and 2 of the current Criteria also form the core of the Quality Assurance Agency’s (QAA) Subject Benchmark Statement for Architecture and the Part 3 Criteria are appended to the Statement.

Life Safety

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster the Government appointed Dame Judith Hackitt to review Building Regulations & fire safety. Dame Hackitt’s report, published in May 2018, made a number of recommendations for change.

One of those recommendations was that ARB, working with partners, should consider the future competence levels of architects joining the Register in relation to fire safety design issues, particularly relating to those architects involved in designing Higher-Risk Residential Buildings.

The Board has decided that those seeking to enter the Architects Register must have an adequate level of competence in all areas of life-safety design, including fire safety.

Climate Change

In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a special report predicting a global warming of 1.5% between 2030 and 2052, leading to severe detrimental impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, and increasing the risks to health, livelihoods, security and growth of the human population. In June 2019 the UK Government amended the Climate Change Act with a legislative target to be carbon neutral by 2050.

With the built environment contributing a significant amount of the UK’s total carbon footprint, it is clear that architects will have a key role in meeting this target in the next 30 years, and so it is important that those coming onto the Architects Register have a sufficient understanding of the nature of the climate emergency and knowledge of design principles and building technologies to meet the challenges of architectural practice in the context of global heating.


Two working groups will conduct targeted reviews and make recommendations to change, and/or develop accompanying guidance for, the Criteria. The Board will make a final decision on any changes after carrying out a consultation.

It is anticipated that any changes will be the minimum required to satisfy the terms of reference. No changes to the current structure of the Criteria are envisaged. The outcomes will aim to align with any mandatory CPD requirements that are specified by relevant professional bodies.

The aim will be for the working groups will include those with expertise in the relevant subject matter and relevant areas of educational practice as well as representation from professional bodies and any jurisdictions with differing requirements. The groups will be chaired by an ARB Board member. It is likely that there will be significant cross-over in the membership of the two groups. 


  • Those undertaking their studies in architecture obtain a minimum level of competence in the areas of fire & life safety design and climatic performance at each stage of their training
  • The recommendations can form a basis for any future competence regime which is put in place for architects
  • The Board can continue to discharge its functions under Section 4(1) of the Architects Act 1997
  • The Criteria for the Prescription of Qualifications at Part 1 and Part 2 continue to align with the requirements set out under Article 46 of the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications Directive.


January 2020
January 2020

Initial meetings

The Fire & Life Safety working group and Climate Change working group met for the first time.
February 2020
February 2020

Action underway

The Groups began work on identifying recommendations for the Criteria, and guidance that underpins them.