Taking Living Future Europe and the 2021 Masterclass to COP26 ensured that a regenerative voice was heard at COP26. Our voice, the voice of our guests and attendees was one that called for bold action, much more holistic thinking, and a radical shift in the way we build at this crucial moment in time.
Our guests provided a diverse set of insights and challenges that provoked conversations that could have gone on a lot longer than time allowed.
Below, we’ve captured some of these insights, in a bid to preserve and share them even further and provoke more conversations — with us, your colleagues, and yourselves.
Our guests and attendees came from across different sectors of the built environment. Martin Brown, Vice-President of LFE said of this: “Their juxtaposition with one another allowed us to see a complex pattern of aspects and messages entangled within the climate and ecology agendas. What followed was a deep exploration of that wholeness amongst us as a group and continued reflection on what that means for us and our organisations.”
As President of LFE, Carlo Battisti noted, “In the midst of a pandemic and a global climate emergency, it has been so reinvigorating meeting like-minded people from our network. We know we are on the right track, we are creating momentum to keep doing our part, individually and as a community.”
We hope that, in sharing some of these insights and provocations, we reinvigorate your momentum also:
Adaptation AND mitigation are our pathway forward
Roberta Boscolo – Lead of Climate and Energy, World Meteorological Organisation
Opening the day with climate science gave us critical context and illustrated the ‘here and now’ of climate change. Many of our solutions are mitigation-focused, but as Roberta Boscolo pointed out, we need to work on both mitigation and adaptation. Concentrating on mitigation alone is avoiding the reality that we already live in a substantially changing climate. We need to create new ways to manage and thrive within it.
This is NASA’s definition of climate mitigation and adaptation, based on UN reports:
Mitigation – reducing climate change – involves reducing the flow of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, either by reducing sources of these gases (for example, the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, or transport) or enhancing the “sinks” that accumulate and store these gases (such as the oceans, forests, and soil). The goal of mitigation is to avoid significant human interference with the climate system and stabilise greenhouse gas levels in a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change.
Adaptation – adapting to life in a changing climate – involves adjusting to actual or expected future climate. The goal is to reduce our vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change (like sea-level encroachment, more intense extreme weather events or food insecurity). It also encompasses making the most of any potential beneficial opportunities associated with climate change (for example, longer growing seasons or increased yields in some regions).
Follow Roberta on LinkedIn to stay up with the latest developments in climate science.
Getting clever with supply chains and urban systems to move ‘Beyond Buildings’
Catriona Brady – Director of Strategy and Development, World Green Building Council
The World Green Building Council has traditionally focused on, well, buildings – it’s in the name. Director of Strategy and Development, Catriona Brady, introduced their hot-off-the-press report that pushes the built environment to go ‘Beyond Buildings’.
Their reason? The built environment is expansive. Buildings have an infrastructure that supports them. We need to be smarter and have a more closely aligned approach to building that encompasses the surrounding infrastructure:
- Interdependence in use. Buildings and infrastructure exist as a shared urban system, so it is important that we consider them together as part of a system.
- Shared construction supply chains. Buildings and infrastructure have shared commonalities – similar materials, processes of design and construction. There is opportunity here for collaboration to meet climate targets and sustainability goals.
Read the full reports, including details of where those opportunities lie, case studies, and WGBC’s pathway for a framework of shared principles:
Follow Catriona on LinkedIn for the latest from the World Green Building Council
Do we even build? A shift in our approach to what we need in the built environment
Scott McAulay – Climate justice activist and educator in architecture
50,000 buildings are demolished in the UK every year.
That’s a sentence that needs to stand alone. As Architecture Educator, Scott McAulay, pointed out, this is one of the biggest opportunities for the built environment to step up and make a radical change to its carbon emissions.
So, why is it not happening? As with many things, it’s policy and people. We need more people in the retrofit industry. We need policy and regulation change. In the UK, retrofits are subject to 20% VAT, while demolishing a building is tax-free.
That needs to be completely changed to make retrofitting an attractive business proposition. And, of course, to avoid the climate emissions paradox of demolishing an older building to build a green building.
Watch Scott McAulay at another COP26 event, highlighting these issues in more detail.
The Anti-Greenwash Playbook to bring us to the radical honesty and transparency we need
Joanna Watchman – Founder of Content Coms, Wellbeing, and sustainability expert
As consumers become more aware of the role companies play in the climate crisis, for better or worse, the response from companies is to paint themselves in the most positive light possible. Who better to do that than marketing and communications experts?
Joanna Watchman, founder of Content Coms, is on a mission to change this culture of greenwashing and building trust through making false claims. Doing this has already led to dangerous outcomes. As we head deeper into the climate crisis and the age of misinformation, clarity, transparency, and accountability in our marketing is more important than ever.
So, how do we ensure that this happens? Joanna and her team have created The Anti-Greenwash Playbook – advice for how we move forward in our work. With truth.
One piece of advice from the playbook – ask questions and demand answers. Encourage your customers, infuse this culture in all of your meetings, and take the time that it takes to ask and answer.
Follow Joanna on LinkedIn for relevant info for carbon-conscious businesses.
Laboratories – the resource-intensive spaces that fly under the carbon radar
James Connelly – CEO, My Green Lab
When we think about areas of opportunity to improve the built environment, we don’t immediately think about laboratories. Labs, however, are very resource-intensive spaces. And currently only a very small percentage of biotech and pharma labs are aligned to the goal of reaching 1.5 degrees by 2030.
If we were to divert just 2% of lab plastics from landfill it would be the equivalent to saving 100 million metric tons of CO2. Essentially, what all of these figures mean is that the scope for cultivating a culture of sustainability is huge.
One of the questions CEO of My Green Lab, James Connelly, put forward is, ‘Shouldn’t science be following the science?’ Shouldn’t those who know science the best be committed to climate science in all facets of their business?
My Green Lab’s 10-year vision is to make that a reality, with every individual in science fluent in sustainability and every lab and every lab product designed to minimize impact.
Follow James on LinkedIn to keep up with their bold vision.
The importance of seeing the bigger picture
James Drinkwater – Head of Built Environment, Laudes Foundation
Climate problems are often addressed with technological solutions that don’t necessarily encompass the bigger picture. A great doctor will look at everything surrounding an injury holistically before applying the bandage. In our race to tackle climate change, we often go straight to bandage production without the holistic thinking. This can lead to missed opportunities for potential to be realised and also have more damaging consequences.
Head of Built Environment at Laudes Foundation, James Drinkwater, explains this in relation to forests. Their Built by Nature initiative accelerates the timber building transformation in Europe, by working in union with nature.
A straight problem -> solution switch from steel to timber doesn’t consider the holistic framework of forests and forest communities. It doesn’t tell the ‘whole carbon story from forest to buildings’ as James puts it. As part of the initiative, they sit down with forest communities and ask – what do we need to do for the biodiversity of this area?
This more holistic approach helps to prevent more problems from being created in a bid to do better.
Follow James on LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest in construction materials.
Sue Riddlestone – CEO and Co-founder, Bioregional
We’ve seen plenty of discussion around goals for the climate crisis, but what is the goal for the ecological crisis?
Sue Riddlestone champions this question in her work as CEO and co-founder of Bioregional, using their One Planet Living framework to work towards a healthy, happy world where we live within the means that this planet can provide.
She drew attention to Edward O. Wilson’s Half Earth project. Currently, only 17% of land environments are protected. The Half-Earth project seeks to create protected areas of half the planet (including oceans). This would create safe habitats for an estimated 85% of living species.
Looking at the climate crisis is not just about directly addressing carbon goals, it also involves that regenerative lens — what will it take for life to thrive?
Follow Sue on LinkedIn to understand more about creating thriving, regional areas.
Caroline Pidcock – Spokesperson, Architects Declare; Chair, 1 Million Women
The language we use around climate change can be resistant and aggressive. Caroline Pidcock, Spokesperson for Australian Architects Declare offered an alternative — a compassionate approach. One where we tend, mend, renew and regenerate.
This is a shift towards the language of healing and thriving, rather than ‘fighting’ climate change (which is already a reality). In making this shift of language, we also shift our minds and hearts in this direction too. And we bring more people onboard. As Caroline reminded us, we need everyone to feel empowered and small things are so important.
Caroline is also the Chair of 1 Million Women, a global movement of women acting on climate change, so she is no stranger to creating those actions that empower. You can watch 1 Million Women’s powerful transformation of John Farnham’s classic, ‘You’re the Voice’, created for the climate change summit in Paris (COP21)
Follow Caroline on LinkedIn for more about creating an abundant future through regenerative design and architecture.
Daniele Pernigotti, Chair of CEN/TC 467 Climate Change, and ISO/TC 207/SC2 Environmental Auditing
As the head of the new Technical Committee on climate change, Daniele had a busy time in Glasgow. The TC 467 will have a fundamental role in the development of voluntary technical legislations to support the implementation of the European Green Deal.
While we weren’t in the Castle, one thing was abundantly clear from our Masterclass unConference — change doesn’t just happen at the negotiating table, it happens through every single one of us.
As President of LFE, Carlo Battisti, puts it, “The challenge might be terrific, but so is the potential to do great things.” Sharing, connecting, and co-creating with one another across sectors and industries is how we do those great things.
Martin Brown, Vice-President of LFE, sums it up nicely: “We need to progress our regenerative and sustainability journeys with renewed urgency, navigating our path, connecting, learning and using our agency to share, inform and inspire as we go.”
If you’re interested in being more involved with Living Future Europe, please follow our events at this page. Stay tuned 😊