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One planet, one environment, one chance

Posted: 31st March 2016

2006 saw a major climate change milestone, the inconvenient truth! Sir Nicholas Stern’s report was criticised at the time for tough messages, today the patterns of human behaviour are proving him right.

By 2035 global energy consumption will nearly double and damaging emissions will increase by about a third. With the built environment contributing over 40% of damaging global emissions. But with only 1% to 2% of our building stock being new build each year then by 2050, 70 to 80% will still be with us.

Crucial to adaptation or refurbishment to these circumstances is the improvement of the efficiency, characteristics and operations of our buildings and the way we use them. Buildings are a fundamental part of society’s infrastructure and our decision making needs a thorough overhaul about how we continuously improve them in the face of growing climate change in relation to:

• Asset value

• Health & wellbeing

• Productivity

• Energy efficiency

• Business stability

• Social & economic costs

Adapting or refurbishing a building through by a more collaborative industry is the delivery part of the equation,we also need to consider the supply side but in relation to current consumption levels at 50% more natural resources than the Earth can replenish. 75% of natural resource usage goes into our cities and through a more collaborative approach we need to whole heartedly embrace recycling, waste elimination and continuos improvement of how buildings perform better.

The proposal is for a new model to be developed for the holistic improvement of the built environment, accounting for all aspects and impacts of the industry. Buildings and their refurbishment generally have long gestation periods with longer term financial commitments. However the risk profile in the planning stage generally considers the here and now and compliance with current statutory instruments. There is a recognition that many; probably most, existing buildings don't perform well in terms of energy efficiency and human comfort; this also is part of the energy refurbishment challenge and opportunity.

Notions of duty and responsibility underline critical aspects of decision making about how and why we should invest in continuous improvement of our building stock and crucially to explain and acknowledge what is likely to happen if we don’t; the risks to society in general.

The need for deep energy refurbishment and better performance of our building stock will need to be a fundamental element of how our cities and urban environments are developed over time in moving towards coping with more extreme weather events and increasingly warmer microclimates. Air quality is increasingly important inside the building as city urban air quality/heat build up worsens in the coming years with climate change. Improving buildings requires better knowledge, information and focuss on reality of how buildings work and perform. New skills and a wider sense of responsibility to society and the planet will be essential.The development of our building stock will be a reflection on how society does or does not embrace the threats and oportunities of climate change.

In this video interviews of industry experts and the infographic animation of the overall challenges we hope to provide a clearer picture of the journey ahead, the balance of economics and behaviour to achieve a sustainable low carbon future.

One Planet: