From zero to hero

Tuesday 15 Jun 2010

Bold claims made for new sustainable development model

Architects Woods Bagot and engineering firm Buro Happold have launched a model for large-scale sustainable development, which they say will ‘significantly advance’ the construction industry's contribution to achieving a zero carbon economy by 2050. Details of the project called Zero-Emissions Design - or Zero-E - were unveiled at the 2010 Bloomberg BusinessWeek Global Green Business Summit in Shanghai. A pilot project will look at the development potential of an industrial site on the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China.

The test case proposes a 450,000 sq m mixed-use development, featuring an 82-storey office and hotel tower, which will continually monitor and react to internal and external climatic conditions for maximum performance. While current approaches to sustainable development reduce the environmental harm caused by the construction and operation of new buildings, ZERO-E goes beyond reducing the impact of new development to creating buildings that contribute to the healing of compromised human and ecological systems.

The joint initiative follows the UN Compact on climate change and China's commitment, made last November, to reducing carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by the year 2020, compared with 2005 levels. Ross Donaldson, chief executive of Woods Bagot, said: "The construction industry has known for some time that increasing the sustainability of buildings and cities is key to turning the tide on climate change. The Zero-e pilot project confirms that using the expertise and tools available to us today far greater advances in building performance-those that comprise zero emissions design-are currently within the industry's capabilities. This initiative is not only an entirely new model for sustainable design, it is also a call to action and an invitation to our development and construction partners to join us as we lead the way to a sustainable future."

Gavin Thompson, Buro Happold's managing director, added: "As an industry we must take urgent steps to change the planning, design and construction of the built environment if we are to help deliver a zero carbon global economy. Zero-e demonstrates the power of combining our significant expertise, blurring the boundaries between architect and engineer and represents a watershed moment for our industry."

James Lancaster

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