build green @ the Greenbuild conference

Friday 10 December, 2010

I attended the greenbuild international forum @ the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo which made me green with envy of everyone able to build green.  Here’s my distillation of 11 pages of notes:

  • The US ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck let us know cellphones would have cost $10,000 without the volume of government buying & embassies are going green by landing LEED certifications.
  • Sustainability started in Brazil 6 years ago & energy regulations 3 years ago.  LEED is the strongest tool.  Industry is creating new materials.  They are working on 0-energy buildings.  You can see global architecture in Brazil.  Brazil built a lot in the 1970’s & 1980’s so that much looked like Boston, New York, or Chicago, but things are being built differently now.  They’ve changed the minds of young architects to reduce water & CO2 usage.  Brazil depends on hydropower from the Amazon River, but that’s not sustainable.
  • Each country/climate-environment is different & sustainable architecture is needed for each.  Communications with other architects to share best practices in each is needed.  A LEED version for Latin America may be created.  Developing cities in emerging markets may be great or a monster.  There is no real Latin American architecture because they are all so different.  They respond to emotion, so it is not so intellectual.
  • 40% of the world population live on/near a coast, but human development is threatening those coasts.  There are dire costs of inaction if left untouched.  Some cities only get 40% of the water they request-it’s expected that heat deaths will double by the year 2050.   70% of Manila is at risk.  The exposure risk will triple by 2070.
  • As the population & urbanization increase, resources become depleted.  Less than 1% of the world’s water is available, which will lead to scarcity by 2025.  We need ecological regeneration, carbon management, & water restoration.
  • China hopes that investment in high speed rail will minimize urban sprawl.  Their population explosion has led to different development strategies every few years.  Urbanization has led to fast demolition, & then development.  Sustainability is a hot real estate topic in the government.  They want to reduce energy usage 50% in a year.  The construction is a $6TR market in China & energy consumption is 40% of the total.  Residents are being urged to reduce waste while whole supply chains are being told to go green or be fined.   Skidmore, Owens, & Merrill created a Beijing Central Business District Vision.  It plans for clean air, filtered water, 0 waste, reduced congestion, & an identification with nature.  The plan is to get off of coal in favor of natural gas.  They are setting new standards & principles.
  • India is requiring more & more regulation/policies which are tied to the state of infrastructure & the costs of utilities.  India also has infrastructure & water delivery issues.
  • The world must be engaged globally in negotiations over carbon.
  • Japan offered carrots in carbon trading & made it an energy security issue. Tokyo is making a market in cap & trade, & has Ecotown as an example.
  • The government has legislated an oil free society in Sweden, where they have some of the strictest building codes.  They were #1 in 2008 in terms of climate.  Consumption per square meter was down, but living spaces increased 50%, evidence of the rebound effect.  Malmo’s Ecocity serves as a good example.
  • Lots of the Netherlands is below sea level:  55% of its area, 60% of its population, & 65% of its GDP.  There are 4 threats there:  1.  SLR  2.  rivers rising  3.  precipitation  4.  groundwater issues.  Responses have been to create water barriers/storage facilities, green buildings to soak up rain, upgrade sewers, build superlevees, floating “acquatecture,” & removing some dikes.

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