Green Memes Intro: the future of our industry, society and planet

The recent flurry of alarming reports on the precarious state of the global environment seems to have re-focused many in the green movement on the need for radical and meaningful action to protect the planet.

First, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported its finding that we have just 12 years to keep the world under 1.5C of global warming. Then the WWF’s Living Planet report concluded that global wildlife populations have decreased by 60% since the 1970s, threatening the ecological support systems that underpin human civilisation.

But in this somewhat frightening context, what can those in the sustainable building sector, and in a community like the AECB, do to drive positive change, spread hopefulness, and play their part in a re-energised global environmental movement?

Andy Simmonds
Andy Simmonds, AECB CEO

Lenny Antonelli is collaborating with AECB CEO Andy Simmonds to write our new Green Memes series, exploring important questions relating to our professional and personal lives, whilst trying to remain hopeful in the face of despair – and where not hopeful then at least to inform necessary action.

Over a series of thought-provoking articles we will examine what role our sector can play in the rapid transition to a genuinely sustainable and just society. Rather than purport to have any definite answers, we will seek to ask big questions, offer radical ideas and provoke intelligent, creative discussion.

Lenny Antonelli
Lenny Antonelli, journalist, writer, deputy editor Passive House Plus

Topics we will examine include:

Can we build our way out of the crisis? A sober look at what deep retrofit and new build can realistically achieve in the coming decades to reduce carbon emissions, and at what other radical and alternative ideas may be possible.

The culture of the construction industry: how deeply flawed is it, and how can we change it? Seeking a new vision for the future of our industry.

Adapting for the future: given the imminence of serious climate change, how can we design buildings, and indeed whole towns and cities, that allow us to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing climate?

Buildings & the biodiversity crisis: what role does the built environment need to play in mitigating ecosystem collapse?

Building a real circular economy: how can we create a genuine zero waste construction economy where everything is reused or recycled, and little extraction of new materials is needed.

Oil change: Should we be aiming to completely give up our reliance on synthetic, petroleum derived materials and fuels — and are the alternatives any better? Or is a more pragmatic approach needed?

The built environment & the just society. Currently 10% of the world’s population is responsible for 50% of its carbon emissions, reflecting economic divisions that run deeply through society as a whole. What role can a sustainable building industry play in delivering a more equitable society?

Buildings, health & well-being: what does designing & constructing a built environment that supports human health, both physical and mental, really mean?

Thinking bigger: what sort of active role should an enlightened building industry take in politics and civil society, in order to play its part in deep and meaningful political and economic change?

If you like to contribute your ideas to this series of articles, contact us