Global Goal 13 urges everyone to take action to slow climate change, and we are embracing this challenge. As our buildings become more energy efficient and our focus shifts to renewable energy sources, we need to address the important issue of building materials. Research shows that the building materials we specify can have as much impact on the climate – or more – than the energy used in operating a building over a span of 50 years.
One of our new business goals for 2019 is to create 30 projects with zero carbon footprints. This will challenge not only ourselves but also our clients. The aim is to strengthen the focus on and knowledge of the impact that building materials have on the climate, and introduce a more holistic approach.
During 2016 we have increased our focus on wood architecture and we have designed over 2000 apartments making substantial use of this renewable material. Wood is not only a low carbon material, but its aesthetic qualities contribute to a really high quality environment, adding warmth and welcome. Several outstanding projects from last year will be constructed from timber, such as the new cultural centre in Skellefteå, the residential settlement in Runavik and the city hall in Växjö. All of these have been designed to be able to reach zero carbon emissions. In the Climate Innovation District in Leeds, UK, we hope to extend an entire zero carbon neighbourhood.
We are also promoting strategies for re-use and recycling. The new office for telecommunications company Telia shows that this is possible even at the largest scale – 86 percent of its new office furniture are re-used.
Climate action is also about reducing the impacts of existing climatic conditions. Through the use of wind, sun and climate simulations, we can plan urban environments in such a way as to ensure optimum comfort for residents and occupants through passive and holistic means. By taking advantage of natural ecosystems we can not only improve the urban ecology, but alleviate some of the damage that has already been done.
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