by David Rudlin and Nick Dodd
The image of sustainable architecture has tended to be of vernacular buildings in a rural Arcadia. Cities after all are noisy, dirty, congested, resource hungry, and polluting.
But sustainability is about more than a "back to the land" lifestyle choice. It is about facing up to a century in which we need to make drastic changes. For example, if global warming is to be reversed, carbon dioxide emissions may need to be cut, not by the 12 percent agreed at Kyoto, but by between 60 and 80 percent by 2050. This according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
We will not achieve this goal by building super-green individual homes for the committed minority. To fundamentally change patterns of resource consumption, we must build for the majority of people, who overwhelmingly are in urban areas.
Over the last seven years, the Sustainable Urban Neighborhood initiative of the Urban and Economic Development Group, with offices in London and Manchester, has explored new models for urban development which reflect changing environmental, demographic, social, and economic trends. Most recently, we have studied autonomous urban developments that are energy-self-sufficient.
Sustainability in an Urban Society
Almost 90 percent of the United Kingdom's and 50 percent of the world's population live in urbanized areas. Some have argued that while cities may be environmentally damaging, they are a fact of life and must be reformed. We believe urban areas should not be merely tolerated — they are potentially the most environmentally efficient form of human settlement. >>>
Understanding a city's "metabolism" is key to making it energy- and resource-efficient.
Sustainability was a key driver for the design of London's Greenwich Millennium Village by architect Ralph Erskine.
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