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Smart Sustainable Design: Are We Seeing Signs of Progress

The conversation around regenerative construction has come a long way in the last decade, with a maturing understanding of the possibilities and a growing public focus on how well the built environment meets our sustainability goals. It’s heartening to see increased attention on whether we’re delivering the sustainability benefits we truly need.

Looking globally, there is a long way to go, and we see common challenges across different cities. On a positive note, there are emerging frameworks and strategies that offer hope for meaningful progress.

One critical aspect that needs attention is the balance between sustainability considerations and key commercial decisions during investment and development. Carbon is becoming a meaningful factor in real estate cost and value calculations. This involves evaluating the financial impact of embodied and operational carbon in the light of emerging carbon pricing, along with market changes, societal shifts, and public perceptions.

In the Netherlands, where we enjoy working, various municipalities are now competing to establish reasonable societal costs associated with the emission of greenhouse gases, and for these to be part of value decisions about real estate projects, setting a commendable precedent for environmentally conscious development.

Architects, more than ever before, play a crucial role in offering innovative solutions to address the carbon crisis, integrating these considerations into costings, valuations and design targets.

The drive towards carbon conscious construction, however, should not replace other key aspects of the design of the built environment. It is not worthwhile focussing on carbon savings on projects that otherwise lack functionality or longevity. True value comes from well-designed buildings that are adaptable, appreciated, well used, and built to last.

Ron Bakker, Founding Partner and Head of PLP Labs

Architects, more than ever before, play a crucial role in offering innovative solutions to address the carbon crisis