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Building a New World

This Thought Leadership blog has been authored by Johanne Gallagher, Strategic Delivery Lead-Sustainability, ARKANCE (formerly VinZero)

Sustainability in the Built Environment

At COP28, 2023 we are reminded of the words of Gro Harlem Brundtland who in 1987 published the Brundtland report entitled Our Common Future and defined sustainable development as '‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’'.

‘Business as Usual’ is unsustainable

According to the Global Construction Industry Report Analysis 2023-2028, the global construction industry is expected to reach an estimated $12.9 trillion USD by 2028, and it is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR)of 4.2% from 2023 until 2028. New construction is expected to add an estimated 180 billion square meters of building floor area worldwide by 2050, as published by the Global buildings sector Net Zero Scenario. The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction run by UNEP estimates that in 2022, buildings accounted for 37% of our global greenhouse gas emissions from building materials such as concrete, steel, aluminium, glass and bricks. The Built Environment is responsible today for over 34% of our global energy demand which includes manufacturing of materials used to construct new buildings, and emissions released due to operating existing buildings.

The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development

The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD) is a powerful uniting framework that can be applied across all sectors in the Built Environment to guide the Built Environment towards sustainability. The FSSD is a 5-level framework, a model for planning and organizing information in complex systems such as a city, developed by Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden in collaboration with The Natural Step in Canada. Level one defines the system being developed, for example a retrofitting a precinct in New Delhi, New York or Sydney or designing a new city in China. The Success level describes what sustainability of the system looks like when looked through the lens of the sustainability principles both ecological and social. Changes in governmental or organizational policy to facilitate medium-term aspirations and long-term vision of cities are paramount to success and guide strategic thinking. The third level is the strategic level which contains strategic guidelines for architects, contractors and engineers to follow in taking innovative approaches towards sustainability. The fourth level describes the concrete actions and strategic decisions taken on the path to achieve sustainability. The fifth level describe the tools necessary to implement decisions and measure performance success along the journey and includes technology such as Environmental Monitoring Systems, Ecological Footprinting, Zero Emission, 3D Modelling, Digital Twins, AI and Life Cycle Assessment tools.

Levers for Sustainability

The FSSD includes levers for sustainability such as urban design principles to ensure the regeneration and integration of nature (bio urbanism and permaculture), circular economy approaches (circular built environment playbook) as well as regulation, policy and procurement strategies towards a vision of success. It can be applied on any scale, from a house to precinct to city and guides sustainability thinking and decision making during the development process. Success is measured and reported via an ESG reporting framework.

The Power of Procurement

Bob Willard of Sustainability Advantage emphasizes the impacts of Government/public sector procurement when they stipulate sustainable criteria in their tenders for construction or big infrastructure projects. When big buyers give significant weight to sustainability-related attributes of both suppliers and contractors, and their goods and services, businesses pay attention.

‘’The buying power of sustainable procurement is an untapped market force that can engage companies in the race to net-zero GHGs. When incentivized to improve their own environmental and social impacts, businesses will meet the growing demand for ethically sourced, climate-beneficial, sustainable products. They innovate more sustainable products and adopt more sustainable business models because their big customers use sustainable procurement which make those attributes matter. Follow the money.’’

The future is in our hearts, minds and hands

Sustainability is the result of all these inspiring strategies, levers and innovations but most importantly, sustainable development in the built environment is about creating a beautiful place to live, one that is healthy and harmonious with nature and offers a thriving future for all life for generations to come.

Let’s advance the way we work together to build a better world” – this is the vision that guides success for ARKANCE and its customers. A subsidiary of the French B2B services group  MONNOYEUR, ARKANCE was founded in 2018 to become the leading digitalization partner for the construction and manufacturing sectors. Fueled by its innovative ‘Partner to Build  Smarter’ strategy, ARKANCE combines its own purpose-built Be.Smart software portfolio and expert professional services with solutions from a network of world-class technology partners. With over 1300 employees spread throughout 50 locations worldwide, ARKANCE is a recognized leader in digital transformation across the construction, manufacturing, and infrastructure sectors.