Estimates of the building industry’s contribution to world carbon emissions reach as high as 30% worldwide – with figures on energy consumption in the region of 40%. Given the scale of the industry’s contribution to these figures it is obvious that we cannot ensure a sustainable planet without addressing the practices, materials and legacy of our building industries, our cites and our buildings.
However, key to a sustainable future are also related social questions. The sustainability of communities is one of the most basic components of the quality of life and opportunity. Badly planned developments can not only lead to the destruction of habitats, they bring unaffordable housing, displaced communities and negative effects on physical health.
Hosted in London, this conference is concerned with the broad range of issues that affect the cities of advanced economies, the metropoles of new economic powerhouses, and the conurbations of the developing world.
In a context of resurgent commercial construction in industrialised economies, increased government targets for the building of houses across Europe, and the UN Environment Programme argument that we need to cut the world’s carbon emissions to zero by 2064 this conference has multiple aims. It seeks to share advances in the retrofitting of houses in the UK, new ideas for environmentally efficient buildings from Sweden, and the latest developments in Zero Carbon construction from the United States.
It also welcomes questions on issues like the self-build practices of housing and urban developments in the outskirts of Rio; how solar technologies employed in office buildings in Melbourne can be appropriated for residential buildings in Georgia or Moscow? Do low-tec flood defences in Sri Lanka offer ideas for the floodplain developments in the UK?
Issues and questions such as these can also be framed in larger contexts: What initiatives are Western governments supporting to meet carbon reduction targets? How can the developed commercial housing markets of Europe and North America profitably incorporate more sustainable practices? What are the emerging environmental building practices from the Pacific Rim that are most applicable in the global north? Can Europe’s building industry offer technical assistance to other nations, open new markets and learn from old techniques simultaneously?