Buildings are a major contributor to climate change, estimated by the US Green Building Council to account for 39% of US carbon emissions, and yet less than 1% of construction revenues are reinvested into research and development.
Are we progressing fast enough to cut emissions from the built environment – and how can we speed up the process?
As pointed out by Antony Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, there is no shortage of innovation within the industry.
Speaking at the RICS World Built Environment Forum Summit 2019 in New York, he cites a number of examples, such as the NBR Osaki Building in Tokyo, which uses a system of rainwater-filled ceramic pipes around its exterior to cool the building naturally, thus reducing energy use associated with air conditioning.
For Wood, the question is less one of where the innovation should come from, and instead much more a matter of how the entire value chain of landowners, tenants, governments, builders and professionals can act in concert to execute these innovations at scale.
"We're nowhere near addressing the challenges of climate change and sustainability, as a species, in the way that we need to be.
"There's some fantastic research going on, and there are some fantastic buildings [...] but I just don't know that it's enough. We need to do our very best that we can do with every building. We need to take what's been happening at the building scale over the past 10-20 years and adopt that to big thinking on an urban scale."