Reinventing Cities: the climate emergency is real, urban transformation is essential

Edward Craig
07 Feb 2020

We need a significant and substantial shift in how we build and live in cities if we’re to rescue the globe. Here’s your chance to do something…

We live in a crucial decade for climate action. Buildings generate 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and use 30% of global resources.

With urbanisation growing at an unprecedented rate, this will only intensify: we are on track to build one city the size of Stockholm per week until 2050.

The ways we develop and reimagine our cities must drastically change.

The C40 Reinventing Cities international competition, now open for entries within nine global cities, seeks to scale up and accelerate sustainable, climate-smart urban development. This will happen through innovative and replicable climate solutions, that serve as examples for other cities to reduce the carbon footprint of their built environment.

The first edition of the competition saw pioneering models of public-private collaboration delivering real-life inspiring carbon-neutral development, some of them set new national standards. Here are some of the winning projects of the past Reinventing Cities competition:

L’Innesto (Milan, Italy) will be the first carbon-neutral social housing project in Italy on its completion. This project proposes an innovative fourth-generation district heating system connected to the neighborhood and powered by on-site renewable sources. It has a 60 percent green-space target, as well as an ambitious mobility strategy that limits space for cars, promoting sustainable transport.

Lifandi landslag (Reykjavík, Iceland) will be Iceland’s largest wooden building: a zero-carbon, mixed-use building that harnesses PassivHouse standards and objectives for energy efficiency. Lifandi Landslag, which translates to Living Landscape, will pursue an ambitious biodiversity plan by dedicating 75 percent of the site to green space. The project also aims to expand low-carbon mobility by expanding walking and cycling infrastructure and allocating 50 percent of parking spaces to electric vehicles. See video at end of article.

Recipe For Future Living (Oslo, Norway) is a residential and commercial space with ambitious carbon-neutral and net-zero energy goals. The project looks to address the construction industry’s waste problem with an innovative circular economy approach: the project will reduce 90 percent of emissions by upcycling local building components and construction materials. Recipe for Future Living will also host a start-up incubator community to promote ecological living and climate solutions and dedicate 50 percent of the site to green public spaces, including gardens, beehives, greenhouses, aquaponics, and orangeries. See video at end of article.

Garfield Green (Chicago, Illinois, United States) is a net-zero carbon and net-zero energy residential community located in Chicago’s East Garfield Park area, a neighborhood in need of economic investment. This development will generate 100 percent of its power and process all stormwater on-site.

Mark Watts, executive director at C40, says: “The Reinventing Cities competition has inspired exactly the inventive collaboration, we need to combat the climate crisis – from the skills and creativity of architects, artists, environmentalists, and entrepreneurs.

“The creation of new and exciting developments in cities not only reduces carbon emissions from construction but also builds the resilient urban environments we need to cope with rising temperatures and more extreme climate events.

“Reinventing Cities is more than an innovative design competition, it provides vital solutions to build the future we want. Beyond mere design and architecture.”

To create a new paradigm for building and living in our cities, we must strive for decarbonisation and zero emissions buildings, and must consider the emissions generated by a project during its whole life cycle, including both operational and embodied carbon. This is why the competition favours projects that put carbon impact at the heart of the decision-making process and combine the best climate solutions for energy efficiency, sustainable construction materials and low carbon mobility.

With the new competition happening in 25 new sites all over the world, C40 Reinventing Cities gives the unique opportunity to stakeholders to reinvent spaces in light of climate urgency.

Find out more information and how to enter here.

Living Landscape, Reykjavik.

Recipe for Future Living, Oslo

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