Author: Andrew Bullmore, Partner
Demanding a dual response.
We are living through both a global health crisis and a global climate crisis.
One has caused a rapid shock to our way of life as a novel virus spread rapidly though the population.
The other is a slower-motion disaster caused by our overreliance on fossil fuels, the effect of which has the potential to breakdown the climatic and ecological systems that we all depend upon for our survival.
And yet the two are inextricably linked.
Our health is dependent on a stable climate, the availability of natural resources and a balance in biological system, but in return the health of the planet is dependent on the economic stability that results from a healthy and productive society.
If we are to thrive as a nation, or in the extreme survive as a race, then both issues need to be addressed with effectiveness and speed.
The built environment has a central role to play in our recovery from both crises, and in delivering resilience for the future. With people typically spending 85% of their time indoors, the built environment forms the focus of our lives. It holds the key to us both living healthily and working productively.
But the built environment is also the focus of the two crises currently facing us: internal spaces are where disease is most likely to be spread, and buildings are responsible for 40% of emissions contributing to climate change.
In 2019, the market was worried about achieving the target of Net Zero Carbon (NZC), and that summer the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The need to tackle the Covid19 pandemic in the immediate term has undoubtedly been a disruptor, but we should also recognise that it has also been an accelerator; the need to better understand and manage buildings has been accelerated, and response times have been cut.
All developers, estate owners, and occupants must now increasingly engage with their buildings if they are to optimise health and wellbeing for people and minimise their contribution to climate change. Furthermore, all must recognise that this is not an either/or situation; there is an urgency to simultaneously develop solutions to both crises: to ‘Re-energise, Re-occupy, Re-think’
This dual urgency is driving us to be more vocal about what we can do – because delivering buildings that are simultaneously healthier for occupants and the planet alike is at the very heart of our capabilities.