I have been given permission by Bernard to publish what I think should be adopted as a mission statement for London:
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I believe that we need to develop within the construction industry a future-focused innovation strategy for low impact buildings in UK, and to export this strategy, with the technologies which complement it, worldwide. London seems an obvious place to start and you are in a key position to influence local government and to make it happen.
"If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding the solutions" Albert Einstein.
A low impact building is one that reduces the resources used both during the construction and use of the building, and throughout the consequential effects of the building, and its location, on broader aspects such as transportation options and impacts on the biosphere.
It provides a secure affordable, healthy and comfortable environment that supports the needs of the occupants and owners for the long term, is resilient to future climate change, and adaptable for future uses, thus making it a desirable economic asset too.
You need consider 5 key aspects in regard to urban regeneration in Central London:
1. Maximising Existing Stock
80% of the building stock that will exist in 2050 has already been built. It is resource inefficient and is currently responsible for about 45% of UK Carbon emissions (UKGBC). Whilst the Green Deal has created a clear business incentive for providing retrofit services, the industry is suffering from a lack of scaleable solutions, capital and process to scale up, existing products and services. Progress is also being undermined by user behaviours and a lack of awareness of retrofit opportunities. More than 18 million out of the 25 million dwellings in the UK were built prior to 1980. The Carbon Trust estimates that reducing the carbon emissions from the UK's non-domestic buildings by 35% by 2020 could result in a net cost saving to the UK economy of more than £4.5 billion. (IGT Review).
2. Zero Carbon New Builds
The UK Government has set a policy to make all new homes zero carbon from 2016 and all non-domestic new buildings zero carbon from 2019, I believe that there is an earlier deadline for public buildings. However the cost of delivering a fully compliant, future proofed, zero carbon home is currently very challenging for business, unless Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are considered. Engineering design, evaluation and materials solutions have not been mainstreamed within a conservative industry with business practices (e.g. sub-contracting) that resist joined up solutions. There are a few notable exceptions.
3. Resilience to Future Climate Conditions
The UK is likely to continue to experience wetter, warmer and more extreme weather conditions. As our island becomes more populated we will consume more water. Droughts and floods will be more common place. To make sure that buildings remain fit for purpose - comfortable, safe, affordable, healthy - the construction industry must be able to adapt the current stock and all new builds to be climate resilient. Currently the construction industry has been slow to present a clear business case for climate resilience or adaption in the market and there is very little in the way of policy compliance pressure. However customer needs are begining to emerge as evidenced by extremely high climate-related insurance premiums.
4. Connecting Buildings with Infrastructure
To live and work well in buildings people need water, waste, energy, social space, transport, recreation and communication services. The relationship between this infrastructure and buildings is often invisible, inefficient and inappropriate for needs. However achieving rapid and systemic improvements in the building ecosystem is challenging as each sub-sector of UK infrastructure is vertically structured and poorly integrated. Low impact buildings are perceived to be niche and few demonstrators exist in the UK.
5. Adaptable Buildings for Quality of Life
Within recent decades there have been profound changes in how people live together, their lifestyles and their needs. Cities are becoming more crowded, multicultural, internationalised, and the population is ageing rapidly. To fit these changing needs low impact buildings must deliver social benefits - Flexible, modern, healthy living spaces promoting a high quality of life - as well as environmental benefits. This must be achieved within a conservative industry which profits from its own supply chain, which is why some contractors are product centric rather than offering solutions which are needed and wanted.
We need a Local Government which supports innovators, fast moving entrepreneurs, and creative leaders across virtually every industry, enabling them to:
1. Create and implement social, sustainable and ethical innovations with an emphasis on designing breakthrough, disruptive, systemic solutions that can scale.
2. Host and convene collaborations focussed on collective success, often involving other government departments and other governments, non-profits, corporations, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
3. Build the capacity to innovate effectively into the future.
4. Invest in future-ready business models that deliver across the quadruple bottom line.
What we do not need is a Local Government which embraces unproven and untested building systems, dismissing superior and proven technologies with a cavalier attitude, by hiding behind OJEU and other procurement procedures. Locked into an inflexible framework, designed more for the consultants and contractors to benefit from, and not putting residents first. That is not a level playing field.
Bernard Hornung (end of quote)