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Sustainable Design and Climate Change

Sustainable Design and Climate Change

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Published by: Daisy on Dec 07, 2009
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BrieingSustainable design,climate change andthe built environment
Tackling climate change involves creatingsustainable places. Construction anduse o the built environment currentlyaccounts or around hal o nationalcarbon emissions. But there are planning,design and management solutions toclimate change, i we use design asa problem-solving process.
CABE believes that sustainabledesign is an integral part o gooddesign. No building, space or placecan be considered well designed i itdoes not contribute to environmental,social and economic sustainability.Conversely, no building, space orplace can be considered sustainablei it is not well designed.
However, many people see design quality andsustainable design as two separate issues: one aquestion o aesthetics, the other o technical solutionsto the problems o reducing energy consumption.
From CABE’s perspective, sustainable design andgood design are mutually reinorcing
. Design qualityis not just dened by how a building, space or placelooks, but by how it unctions, how it meets the social,economic and environmental needs o the people itserves, and how it can be managed and adapted asthose needs change over time. We recognise the valueo a ‘long lie, loose t, low resource use’ philosophy.
No built orm is inherently sustainable orunsustainable.
The point is to assess the environmentalperormance o the building or masterplan as one parto assessing its design quality, which you do in thecontext o the economic and social sustainability othe place in which it is located. It is essential to thinkin an integrated way about the longevity, fexibility andeciency o buildings within the wider environment.
CABE’s unique contribution to the climate changedebate is rooted in our involvement across thedecision-making cycle o projects at a range oscales
. From the planning and design process to themanagement and maintenance o buildings, spacesand places, and rom advising on regional spatialstrategies and masterplans or new settlements tounding or neighbourhood parks. Our strengthslie in joining things up, making the links betweennational, regional and local government and beingable to bring together the many disciplines thatmake up the built environment proessions.We also have a huge advantage in being able to drawon some o the UK’s most creative minds and orward-thinking designers to visualise scenarios or a low carbon,sustainable world. We can inspire and inorm change,using good practice examples to show that radicalchange is not just possible but that it can lead to betterplaces and better lives than those we lead today.
CABEis well placed to explore what low carbon, sustainableplaces might be like now and in the uture
. This kindo public inspiration is essential or decision makerswho are looking or a strong public mandate to back uptough decisions and motivate changes in behaviour.CABE‘s design review team considers 400 o the mostsignicant development proposals in England eachyear. Our enabling teams have so ar provided adviceto 165 local authorities and every housing marketrenewal and housing growth area. In total, CABE hasoered practical support to improve the quality o£13.5 billion o public expenditure on new schools,health buildings, cultural acilities, and public spaces.We are now seeing many more projects comingthrough design review that aspire to reduce theirenvironmental impacts and make a positive contributionto social and economic welare. But these proposalsoten display only partial consideration o the issues.For example, a low energy building may have a greenroo and grey water recycling but be located in anout o town business park only accessible by car.At the time o writing there
is only a handul osizeable housing schemes and masterplans onthe drawing board, in planning, or in existencewhich could be described as places designed orsustainability
: or example One Gallions in Newham,East London; Middlehaven in Middlesbrough;BedZED in Sutton, South London; New Islingtonin East Manchester; Waterlooville, Hampshire, andSouthall Gasworks in Ealing, West London.
At Chimney Pot Park in Salord, highly innovative design byUrban Splash has turned traditional 19th century terraces upsidedown, improving the quality o the local neighbourhood andgiving the homes a new lease o lie or 21st century living
CABE’s contributionto climate action
 Ci  mn e y  o t   a , S  al  f   o d  © U  b  an S  pl   a s 
In line with the best available evidence, CABE believesclimate change is mainly the result o human activity.We also observe that
the problems climate changepresents us with are in large part planning, designand management issues
. Climate change and widerobjectives o sustainable development are subject toa circular relationship in which dynamic eedbacksbetween the two aect one another
. These problemsare a consequence o where things are located andhow they’re designed: how resources and energy areconsumed; land developed; buildings and inrastructureconstructed; services supplied, and places connected.The construction and use o the UK’s built environmentinrastructure currently accounts or around 50 per cento national carbon emissions
and 1 per cent o totalglobal emissions
. There are, thereore, planning, designand management solutions to climate change, based onthe application o design as a problem-solving process.CABE will work to address the issues o sustainabledesign, climate change and the built environmentthrough the UK government’s ramework orsustainable development, applying the veprinciples o: living within environmental limits;a strong, healthy and just society; a sustainableeconomy; good governance, and sound science.
In this context, the top three issuesor CABE are:
design and management obuildings, spaces and places
public sector leadership and inuence
scale and sufciency o action.
 Design and management obuildings, spaces and places
The eects o climate change and the strategies ordealing with it will all maniest themselves in the placeswhere we live and work. This is true regardless o thetargets and timescales or environmental impacts wedebate or the balance we strike between regulatoryrameworks and scal incentives. As a result,
strategicurban design, masterplanning and the managemento buildings, spaces and places must be essentialparts o any sustainable development or climatechange strategy
. A holistic approach is required whichgoes beyond measurement and calculations to considerthe quality o places. CABE intends to ensure theright processes and spatial decisions are put in placeat the right time, creating opportunities or both newdevelopment and reurbishment projects to perormbetter and be more sustainably designed and managed.Individuals, local authorities, cities, organisationsand companies all need to take action on climatechange. Tangible, visible changes at the buildingand local environment scale are important in raisingawareness and promoting understanding o theissues. But
the majority o an average individual’scarbon emissions come rom their use o sharedinrastructure and services
, such as schools,hospitals, roads and airports, and the productionand transportation o ood
. Reducing emissions isthereore not just about the design and management oindividual buildings and changing individual behaviourbut about planning and designing or sustainabilityat the scale o neighbourhoods, cities and regions.In terms o value or money and economies o scale, itis sensible to address the causes and eects o climatechange sooner rather than later
. However, well-managedinterventions at larger spatial scales could also have amuch greater positive impact or relatively less money.London oers one example o how spatial planning atdierent scales is beginning to relate more broadly tostrategies or dealing with climate change. The Londonplan
is the overarching strategic spatial strategydocument or the London region and the London climatechange action plan ocuses on what action is specicallyrequired to achieve carbon reduction targets. At the sametime, the London Climate Change Partnership
inormspolicies which begin to address the adaptation measuresLondon needs to take in addition to climate changemitigation
This is about a complex, but necessary,connecting up o what everyone is doing acrossdierent sectors and at dierent scales
. Regionaland sub-regional spatial strategies set out the spatialvision or an area and have the potential to incorporatestrategies or climate change mitigation and adaptation,3
What the issues are
1 Mohan Munasinghe and Rob Swart (2005)
Primer on climate changeand sustainable development 
2 Department or Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reorm (2007)
 Draft strategy for sustainable construction: a consultation paper 
3 This gure is based on emission estimates published by Dera (2005) thatcalculate the UK’s contribution to global carbon emissions are approximately2 per cent www.tinyurl.com/3cody3. However, this gure has been challengedby Christian Aid who claims that exported consumption, in the orm o theinternational activities o UK companies, means that the UK’s real impact onglobal carbon emissions has been underestimated. Christian Aid claim that amore accurate gure would actually be around 12-15 per cent o the globaltotal www.tinyurl.com/yvkg7b4 Pooran Desai and Paul King (2006)
One planet living
5 HM Treasury (2006)
Stern review on the economics of climate change
6 Greater London Authority (2004)
The London Plan
 www.tiny.cc/YIxKp7 Greater London Authority (2007)
London climate change action plan
,www.tiny.cc/F7NgA8 London Climate Change Partnership (2006)
Adapting to climate change:lessons for London
, www.london.gov.uk/mayor/planning/strategy.jsp

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