Make Sustainable Construction Reality

  • Sustainability
  • Global

How architects and governments are working hand in hand to transform construction—and make cities greener.

Man on a tall ladder working on a wall with green plants on it

As our planet’s thermostat reaches scorching highs, we’re faced with an unavoidable reality: The way we live and work simply isn’t sustainable.

And no industry is off the hook when it comes to mitigating climate change. The construction industry is a key contributor, with concrete and steel foundations accounting for 10% of global greenhouse emissions.

With populations rising, new residential and commercial spaces are a must. Projections suggest an additional 2 trillion square feet of buildings will be constructed by 2060. But new buildings mean more resources: heating, cooling, lighting, water, and more. So how can our planet welcome a growing population without opening the door to an unwanted visitor—climate change?

Thanks to recent projects involving collaboration from stakeholders around the world, the buildings of tomorrow look incredibly different. Like the Mjøstårnet timber skyscraper, where engineers, architects, construction workers, and project managers established building features for healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Meanwhile, governments have synchronized legislation that supports environmental planners’ agendas. For global respondents, governmental regulations and incentives are a top influence on green building activity. In Dubai, a green building rating system, Al Sa'fat, sets requirements for all buildings built after 2016 to attain a base-level sustainable performance score. These systems that reject environmental negligence simultaneously encourage innovation across electricity, mechanics, and design to future-proof our environment.

Using design thinking expertise, today’s planners, doers, and builders have reimagined everything about how we reside and thrive. By aligning on agendas and options, they fostered innovation in materials and energy sources. Concrete and steel foundations are being replaced with recyclable materials. Excessive heating and AC are improved with smart glass to manage indoor temperatures and PV technology to harness sun rays into electrical energy.

Construction once went hand in hand with waste, deforestation, and pollution. Decades ago, it would have been contradictory to say that construction is good for the planet. But today, buildings from the Bank of America Tower in New York City to the Shanghai Tower to the Bahrain World Trade Center are restoring the health of our planet. Led by innovative changemakers, we are building a greener, greater future.

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