01 – CLIMATE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION
The built environment and the construction sector have a significant impact on the environment. Buildings are responsible globally for around 30% of energy use and produce around 28% of global CO2 emissions; the construction sector produces around 1/3 of global waste, not to mention air, water, and noise pollution and destruction of natural habitats. At the same time, the built environment, in particular in cities where most of global population lives, are threatened by effects of climate change. These include weather-related disasters that damage water, energy, transport, buildings and telecommunications infrastructure.
Thus, it is urgent that an increased focus in placed on both the decarbonization of the built environment (both new and existing) and on the improvement of climate adaptation capacities of cities, buildings and infrastructures.
Examples: near-zero-energy construction, deep renovation at building/district/city level, examples of climate-resilient built environment (e.g. flood/earthquake-resilient); design and construction of green building elements; management of the thermal bridging effect; application of new materials/construction methods; prefabrication.
02 – URBAN REGENERATION, PLANNING AND DESIGN
Rapid urbanization is one of the largest global challenges. With cities being the primary engine of economic growth and development, urbanization has the ability to positively transform the local social and economic situation. In that respect, the dynamism of cities represents a major sustainable development opportunity. On the other hand, mistakes made in managing urban growth are very hard to undo. Infrastructure investments, urban land-use systems, and layouts may be difficult to alter for many decades. Thus, incorporating sustainability thinking into designing new and existing cities is of key importance. This can among others include such features as energy efficiency, higher-density development, a mix of uses/users, provision of public & open spaces, walkable neighborhoods, access to transit, assurances of affordable housing, presence of community gardens, attention to the overall quality of life, and very importantly climate adaptation.
Examples: urban retrofit towards sustainability, urban regeneration projects with sustainability in mind, new sustainable districts, sustainable city development in the developing world/emerging economies, smart cities/districts.
03 – SOCIAL INCLUSION FOR LIVABLE SOCIETIES
Half the world’s population lives in cities, with the trend going up. This is accompanied by some predictions that due to the strong urbanization pace, cities will become more violent, unhealthy and socially exclusive.
The built environment can play a role in creating more inclusive communities and societies.
It can facilitate social inclusion, as well as community building based on mutual respect and solidarity. It can contribute to the creation of livable societies that require equal opportunities, decent living standards and valuable urban health & well-being for all, with diversity being seen as a source of strength.
Examples: socially-inclusive district and city projects, affordable housing projects, building design for well-being.
04 – PROMOTING GREEN AND BLUE STRUCTURES FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVING ENVIRONMENTS
Climate change adaptation is one of the greatest challenges that local communities will face in the 21st century. Ecosystem-based approaches together with the preservation of the natural heritage will have to be an integral part of the overall climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Green spaces and blue structure are an important part of it. Parks, playgrounds, roof vegetation, open water and stormwater solutions are examples of incorporating green and blue structures into the built environment. They can help to ensure that citizens have adequate opportunities for exposure to nature, that biodiversity is maintained, ecosystem services are offered, environmental hazards such as air pollution or noise are reduced or impacts of extreme weather events mitigated.
Examples: nature-oriented solutions (e.g. shrubs, trees, alleys) as a solution for urban heat islands, floods, air pollution and noise; city greenery for biodiversity, public health and security as well as solutions for stormwater treatment and runoff; park and recreation areas, urban gardens, plant nurseries, ponds, and various urban and natural areas (wetlands, woodlands and surface water reservoirs) for enhanced sustainability and climate adaptation, urban farming.
05 – DESIGN FOR HOPE
The urbanization, globalization and modernization that we have been experiencing in the last decades have brought a lot of positive effects simplifying our daily life. At the same time, these trends that have affected the way societies all over the world, have also had some negative effects, among other those that can be observed in our built environment. Before, an expression of local character and culture, the built environment has to some extent become a victim to the quest for Western prosperity and fast, ready-made production, loosing at the same time it local and individual character. The built environment is a reflection of the human needs and desires, and so the ability for local architecture to be able to express it though buildings is crucial. “Design for hope” looks for new (old)ways to create buildings and places that respect the local context and biodiversity, are strongly rooted in history, landscape and the community; and are sustainable, beautiful and a pleasure to live in.
Examples: the role of beauty in design, architecture and planning; good practices of livable environments (schools, parks, natural heritage); admirable places.
06 – HEALTH, COMFORT AND WELL-BEING FOR A BETTER LIFE
Many people around the world spend more than 80% of their time in buildings. What is more, many of modern society’s chronic health issues related to lack of physical activity, stress, and poor diet, can be directly or indirectly linked to the architecture of buildings and cities. Hence, a building design, incl. a good indoor environmental quality, is crucial to make us feel comfortable and productive at home, work or school. Consequently, there is a growing demand for built environment that more intentionally addresses human experience, health, and wellness as core elements of green building practice, both at the building level, as well as district and even city level.
Examples: building design /innovative solutions that contribute to a good indoor environmental quality in residential, office/work and education buildings, human-centered building design; socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative built environment; built environment for health and well-being; air pollution minimizing practices in cities.
07 – ENERGY SYSTEMS FOR THE FUTURE
Fossil fuels still playing a dominant role in global energy systems today. At the same time, fossil fuels also have a very negative impact on air pollution, as well as emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.
In order to address the climate change crisis, it is essential that new renewable energy systems are developed, implemented and scaled-up. At the same time, wide-ranging energy efficiency improvements have to be strived for. Innovative solutions, initiatives and system thinking approaches will be required for the energy transition to take place. The built environment will have to play an essential role in this energy transition.
Examples: clean energy strategies/ projects at district/city level, wide-reaching energy efficiency interventions.
08 – RESILIENT TRANSPORT SYSTEMS AND MOBILITY SOLUTIONS
Transport systems are among the most complex and critical systems of a large city. They are essential to the day-to-day running of cities, as well as their longer-term growth and prosperity. On the other hand, they are considered as the main sources for, CO2 emissions, air pollution and lead to a large number of fatal accidents globally. What is more, they are also at risk from a variety of climate-change-related shocks including flooding, heat waves, earthquakes. This is why cities have to increasingly adapt, expand and reinforce their transport systems and offer innovative and more sustainable mobility solutions, in order to minimize their climate impact and at the same time make them more resilient.
Examples: safe, affordable and accessible transport infrastructure projects; low-emission mobility solutions for a sustainable city; new business models or initiatives.
09 – CIRCULAR BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND URBAN METABOLISM
The built environment we live in today continues to be designed around the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model, in which materials are sourced, used and then disposed of as waste. This approach results in significant structural waste and has contributed to making the built environment one of the world’s largest consumers of resources and raw materials, and a major producer of waste and carbon emissions.
Thus, it is crucial to enhance the establishment of circular economy practices in the built environment, where renewable materials and products are used where possible, energy is provided from renewable sources, waste and negative impacts are designed out, as well as materials, products and components are managed in loops.
Examples: circular business models in the building sector; approaches to efficient construction waste reduction; flexible productive buildings; designing for maintenance and deconstruction; integrated infrastructure systems; supporting standards and regulations.
10 – MATERIAL INNOVATION
Building embodied carbon emissions are produced during the manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of the products and materials that go into buildings and amount to around 11% of global emissions. Thus, not only constitute embodied emissions a significant proportion of a building’s overall carbon footprint, but reductions in embodied carbon take place in the short term, which is critical considering the urgency of climate action. For this reason, it is key to look into material and technology innovation that will allow to reduce or eliminate the embodied emissions in the built environment through e.g. material substitution, lightweight construction, design for low-end-of-life impacts. The re-introduction of traditional building technologies can also develop local material markets and support broader participation in constructing human settlements.
Examples: new resource-efficient and/or low-emission building materials; examples of technological solutions for fossil-free construction; lightweight construction; design for flexibility and adaptability, low-maintenance need, and recyclability, nanotech materials.
11 – DIGITALISATION AND TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Throughout society, a digital and technology transformation is underway and it is also affecting processes and stakeholders in the building sector. For the built environment to become socio-economically effective and sustainable in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) digitalization and innovative technologies need to facilitate the planning, design, building and the management of the built environment. In this development, both circular resource flows and the circular economy are major driving forces. With sustainability as a point of departure, digitalization and technological innovation in various forms, together with the evolution of industrial processes and methods, can contribute the sustainable transformation of the built environment at all levels (building, district, city).
Examples: inclusive and intelligent digital solutions for a sustainable built environment; automation and self-learning technologies; blockchain; digitalization of improved data and information sharing, communication in the building value chain, and building construction and operational monitoring; digitalization supporting construction decarbonization and building efficiency; pre-fabrication, BIM, robitisation, digital twins, 3D-printing, smart buildings, districts and cities.