LOLWAH AL-KHATER, Assistant Foreign Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, is Executive Director of the Doha Forum and BRIAN FINLAY, President and CEO of the Stimson Center elaborate an article of Project Syndicate on how Building the Green-Recovery Consensus should be undertaken as off these days.
Even if everyone can agree in principle that the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should be equitable and sustainable, that doesn’t mean it will be. What is needed is a concrete roadmap with clear goals, timelines, and innovative ideas to ensure that policymakers around the world are on the same page.
March 21, 2022
DOHA – While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is capturing global headlines, COVID-19 continues to wreak socioeconomic havoc around the world. The pandemic has taken more than six million lives, pushed 124 million people into extreme poverty, and impeded progress toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Fortunately, around five billion people have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the World Health Organization and Gavi have set a goal of vaccinating 70% of people in all countries by this July.
Notwithstanding the horrific war in Ukraine, the pandemic and its lasting toll will continue to top the list of pressing global concerns alongside climate change. The effects of the latter crisis are already being felt daily, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report shows. Just recently, extreme temperatures and droughts have ravaged West Asia and North Africa. Rising sea levels are threatening many island states and low-lying countries. Catastrophic flooding has inundated parts of Europe and China. And wildfires have torn across the American West and large swaths of Australia.
Scientists now warn that “business as usual” will likely increase the average global temperature, relative to the pre-industrial level, by a catastrophic 3-4º Celsius by the end of the century. To keep global warming at a far safer level, below 1.5ºC, carbon dioxide emissions will need to fall by 45% (from 2010 levels) by 2030, and then to net-zero by 2050.
Now that we know Omicron to be less deadly than earlier COVID-19 variants, we should use this moment to build on the momentum generated last November at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The world needs to draft a recovery plan that goes well beyond pandemic response by also starting to tackle climate change. The recovery must be not only broad-based but also green.
What does this mean in practical terms? In advance of the 20th edition of the Doha Forum on March 26-27, our organizations teamed up to explore 20 targeted initiatives for driving a just, healthy, and sustainable global recovery. These are outlined in a recently published report, Building Back Together & Greener.
To make the recovery green and sustainable, we propose a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance to facilitate more efficient, climate-friendly methods of producing hydrogen. Once established, the next steps would include setting up a global inventory of green hydrogen programs, protecting intellectual property and licensing rights while expanding global access, and encouraging alliance-wide standard setting for safe storage and transportation.
A fair and inclusive recovery requires more investment in human capital – particularly to upgrade workers’ skills – and an emphasis on supporting the people who are most at risk. Planning processes should privilege public and private financing for low-carbon activities and infrastructure that have the greatest potential to generate jobs for young people and other vulnerable groups facing employment challenges.
To ensure that the recovery supports health and well-being, we need a Global Fund for Social Protection to assist developing-country governments in providing adequate social programs. Such a fund would boost coordination efforts and mobilize domestic and external resources to provide a buffer against economic shocks, including those induced by climate-related environmental disasters.
Finally, to realize the potential of digitalization in advancing the recovery, we need to promote large-scale investment in information- and communications technology infrastructure, both to achieve digital equity and to leverage the economic, health, and environmental potential of new technologies. International organizations and governments should work with businesses to provide effective and reliable digital connectivity, including through targeted investments in the steady digitalization of most (if not all) public services.
Several significant international meetings will be held over the next seven months, each of which will provide an opportunity to take steps toward a shared recovery. But marshalling governments, businesses, and civil society behind a coherent, representative, and sustained global implementation strategy will require a culminating meeting.
That is why we are calling for a “Green Pandemic Recovery Summit,” to be orchestrated by the United Nations and the G20. A two-day event, timed to coincide with the annual UN General Assembly in September, would help to ensure that political leaders at the highest levels commit to pursuing sustainable and equitable socio-economic development in the post-COVID era.
The trillions of dollars spent by wealthy countries during the pandemic shows that there are financial tools available to tackle serious challenges. What is needed is political will, creative market incentives, and a practical blueprint, with clear goals, timelines, and programming ideas.
Resources drawn from related initiatives can help. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Build Back Better World partnership, and national-level “green deals” are generally aligned in their key objectives. UN Secretary-General António Guterres’sOur Common Agenda report offers additional timely and ambitious ideas for delivering global public goods and addressing major risks.
People and countries are understandably still focused on the pandemic, the fear that humanity is nearing the point of no return with respect to climate change, the war in Ukraine, and other global threats. Fortunately, we already have the multilateral institutions that we need to forge a global political consensus for tackling these overlapping crises. We now must leverage these tools accordingly.
CallisonRTKL (CRTKL), a global cultural agency specialising in architecture, planning and design, has published a report forecasting the future of the built environment and the key factors that will shape the residential market and its BTR and senior living lifestyle developments in 2022.
According to the report, the brief for the home is changing. The need now is for productive living environments with the technological infrastructure to support residents. Consequently, a new era is driving hybrid lifestyles and hybrid working cities. Residents are working, exercising, shopping, learning and meeting in more unexpected ways, which are now being dictated by purpose and convenience rather than demand.
For example, coffee shops are popping up in offices, ghost kitchens in hotels and healthcare services in apartment buildings. As these lines continue to blur, a different set of residential amenities are emerging and bringing with them, buildings that will play a more active role in the health and wellness of those that inhabit them.
Obada Adra, Associate Principal at CRTKL, commented: “The residential market and the demands being placed on the home have changed. The need now is for places that are fluid, flexible and authentic. Across the region, people are demanding a more dynamic lifestyle offering that caters to new hybrid working styles and provides greater community and cultural connection.
“At CRTKL, we are developing a blueprint for new buildings that will be more hybridised with changeable systems, structures and modules that can be adapted to suit the evolving needs of the market,” Adra said.
According to the report, three new concepts are driving residential development:
* The Home of Things (HoT): This refers to the physical objects within the home that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. Innovative technology in a fully integrated HoT allows endless opportunities for improved home performance and convenience. Connected and controlled through a resident’s mobile device, the HoT could support amenities by tracking, measuring and improving personal energy usage and well-being. Biometric data gathered here could then be shared with in-house practitioners or resident nutritionists, counsellors, and other health professionals that could rotate through a new type of hyper-local medical office or telemedicine pods that are built into the offer.
* The Branded Residence – Residential meets hospitality meets healthcare: New attitudes about health, wealth, and family are transforming an industry that formerly defined by medical care and home equity. Seniors are delaying entering interdependent living, choosing to age-in-place and increasingly demanding more urban settings and connections to communities and culture. As residents, they want an inner-city lifestyle, impressive amenities, luxury services, superior care, varied culinary options, and resort-like experiences where they can grow and thrive as aging individuals. Spaces that allow their lifestyles, hobbies, and pets to move with them – where they can feel at home, host others, and gain access to improved convenience and care.
To attract the booming elderly population, development is moving in a new direction towards brand residences and a lifestyle product that blends residential operations with a hospitality approach that is based on a professionally managed rental model. These models will focus on holistic health, community integration and mixed-use opportunities, incorporating senior wellness programs across education, exercise (both instructor and technology led), health, nutrition and intergenerational connection.
* The Hybridised model or a ‘Universal Building’: There is a need for the new building typology to feature shared uses that come together to form a hub for a community of creatives, who blend living with working and socialising. The Universal Building allowing for flexible development strategies to take shape over time. With the ability to easily shift the program mix, this supports a city’s strategic goals in that it offers innovative housing and workplace options for an evolving and diverse community. It refers to a framework building with changeable systems, structure, and modules. This uniquely flexible platform can adapt program uses based on changing market needs. From the column grid to carefully considered floor-to-floor heights, the building will easily shift between residential, office and social spaces.
Daily Sabah via ANADOLU AGENCY, came up with this assertion that a Turkish construction firm goes carbon-neutral for a sustainable future. Let us see.
The above image is for illustration and is of Daily Sabah.
ISTANBUL JAN 11, 2022: The Turkish construction company Dorçe Prefabrik continues to conduct business based on environmental awareness and fair socioeconomic development by using natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
The construction sector is one of the sectors where natural resources are used the most. In addition to high energy consumption, heavy machinery and equipment also use fossil fuels.
For a sustainable world, Dorçe continues to work toward becoming carbon neutral by protecting environmental conditions, using recyclable and renewable materials and minimizing energy consumption and waste generation.
With the United Nations’ global principles and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the EU’s Green Deal carbon-neutral policy, the effect of the circular economy and technological developments via digitalization, the construction industry in developed countries is evolving into steel prefabricated modular structures.
Dorçe embodies the transformation with the “ISO 14064 Carbon Footprint Declaration Certificate.”
On July 14 last year, the EU approved the Carbon Border implementation, which was prepared with the aim of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral continent in 2050.
Participating last year in the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which was held as a follow-up to the Paris Climate Agreement and the U.N. Climate Change Framework Agreement, the company once again demonstrated the importance and determination it attaches to this transformation.
The firm considers the concept of sustainability from every angle, continuing its activities with a structure that adopts the U.N. principles and the EU Green Deal targets.
Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) in design, the firm targets reducing its environmental footprint, a zero-waste policy, a fully recyclable production structure, an employee-centered organizational structure, sensitivity to social problems, added value supporting social development in Turkey and other countries where it is active, and developing modular structure projects by benefiting from developing technology, digitalization, and research and development activities.
Sustainable steel structure
The “Workers Accommodation Camps” project, which started as an integrated worker accommodation facility for 4,000 people, was converted into a quarantine hospital by adapting to coronavirus pandemic conditions.
The Umm Slal COVID-19 Quarantine Hospital, which currently has a bed capacity of 4,000, can be increased to an 8,000-bed capacity if needed.
As part of the emergency and preventive measures taken by the Qatari government against the pandemic, the four-story hospital buildings were completed in a short time with the method of recyclable prefabricated light steel structures.
After the 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran, the company met the emergency accommodation needs of the earthquake victims with prefabricated modular solutions in a very short time.
The modular housing units, which can be dismantled, reinstalled and easily transported, continue to serve as student dormitories throughout Iran.
The Lebanese architect offering an innovative approach to sustainable design is about how Lina Ghotmeh has caught the attention of Dezeen Awards for her building Stone Garden in Beirut. The story is by Lemma Shehadi in The National.
For Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh, sustainable architecture should come from the ground of the city. “We need architecture that is anchored in its place and climate, not as an object that creates its own environment,” she tells The National. “I’m always relating the building back to traces of the past. I learn about the vernacular architecture and its relationship to the climate, and how to project that into the future”.
Her approach, which she has termed an “archaeology of the future”, has caught the attention of the architectural world, as well as Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Within a month, Ghotmeh, 41, who lives in Paris, won two major architectural prizes. Last week, her Stone Garden building in Beirut was named Architecture Project of the Year at the Dezeen Awards 2021.
The discrete and slender concrete tower with residential flats was designed to fit the urban make-up of the city, while echoing layers of its history. “Stone Garden whispers the memory of Beirut, its history, its ground. It tries to offer an alternative way of constructing at height in a Mediterranean city and in a hot climate,” she says.
A facade of sand-coloured mortar with hand-chiselled lines evokes the eroded surface of Beirut’s prehistoric Pigeon Rocks on the city’s shores. Their immaculate straightness appears at once futuristic and organic. “The facade was combed as we comb the earth before planting, as a body emerging and narrating the city,” says Ghotmeh.
Yet these lines are also a nod to craft and its potential for sustainable construction. “The power of the hand is presented as an act of healing. When we build by hand, we are more aware of the impact that we may have on the environment,” she explains.
Meanwhile, the building’s open terraces and urban gardens mimic the city’s scars from the civil war. “They transform the scars into moments of life,” she says, “Large windows play along the elevation of the envelope, they open to the city and house lush gardens, bringing nature at the heart of residences.”
The award’s jury praised the building’s “remarkable freshness and power”. They said: “This project is really poetic − it is talking about memory architecture, which is a hard thing to do in a multi-dwelling project. It is going to give a new platform for a seed of ideas in Lebanon.”
And that’s not all. Since 2016, Ghotmeh has been among the architects involved in Hidalgo’s project Reinventer Paris, which aims to transform the city into the first green capital of its kind. For this, Ghotmeh will be designing a wooden tower that hosts a sustainable feeding programme in the district of Massena.
“Ghotmeh is present in the debate about the future of the city,” says architecture critic Kaye Geipel, who was a jury for the Schelling Architecture Prize 2020, which was awarded to Ghotmeh in November for her contributions to the field of architecture. “[She is] a weighty voice in the large-scale project of Mayor Hidalgo, who wants to make Paris a green capital and exemplary for France and Europe”.
Ghotmeh explains that her design approach stems from her upbringing in Beirut. “The city was like an open archaeology, it was always unveiling itself,” she says, “It made me think about our relationship with our ancestors, and the hidden cities that exist beneath us, but also the question of the ground.”
“In the past we thought about buildings as independent environments, climatised and full of glass that just sit there and ignore what’s around them,” she explains. “They could consume as much as they want. They don’t wear the traditions of their place. This is not sustainable, or durable or circular”.
When Ghotmeh began designing the Stone Garden in 2010, Beirut was a different place. “There was this beautiful creative community of designers, fashion designers, architects and chefs. It was a fertile and positive moment. The city’s identity had been developing with the works and voices of many artists and activists,” she recalls.
But today, the entire country is plagued by political deadlock and economic crises. Two of Ghotmeh’s projects in Lebanon, which includes a museum in the Bekaa Valley, have been put on hold. “The failed political system has been suppressing the extraordinary spirit of this city,” she says, “I remain hopeful that change will be possible towards a more just society and environment.”
Nonetheless, a string of projects in France can further push her ideas on architecture and sustainability. She is working on a vast workshop building, called Precise Acts, for the luxury brand Hermes. “It is a low carbon, passive building that will be a benchmark in contributing into an ecological transition in France,” she says.
Yet her dream building, she says, would be a public space along the Beirut coastline that would serve as a universal playground for all ages.
“It would be a joyful public space. It’s a new typology for a museum in a way, that’s not about the collection, but rather the collection of relationships and community making,” Ghotmeh says. “I’m always excited to develop new typologies. How do you really build a public space that’s not just a piazza or the space between buildings, where people find joy?”
Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today.
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon, including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology.
The latter would be aided by the tower design’s ‘stack effect’, which would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system.
In fact, the company has claimed, their Urban Sequoia tower design would be capable, assuming a lifespan of at least 60 years, to absorb up to 4 times the carbon released in the atmosphere as a result of its construction.
Captured carbon could be used to produce biomaterials for roads, pavement, pipes and other items for developing urban infrastructure.
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Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week Pictured: a city of Urban Sequoias
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon , including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology — as depicted
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman. She added: ‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year’ Pictured: modern-day Laos, left, with the firm’s vision of a greener city, right
CONSTRUCTION’S CARBON FOOTPRINT
According to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, ‘the need to transform the built environment is clear.’
Construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions — a figure that could easily rise in the future without alternative approaches.
In fact, experts have predicted that, come 2060, an extra 230 billion square meters of building stock will be required in the world’s urban centres.
This, the architecture firm, is where Urban Sequoia comes in — allowing the built environment to turn buildings in to solutions, rather than problems, in the growing climate crisis.
‘This is a pathway to a more sustainable future that is accessible today. Imagine a world where a building helps to heal the planet,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner, Kent Jackson.
‘We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city in the world, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.’
‘The power of this idea is how achievable it is,’ agreed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill principal Yasemin Kologlu.
‘Our proposal brings together new design ideas with nature-based solutions, emerging and current carbon absorption technologies and integrates them in ways not done before in the built environment.’
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes.
By constructing buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon than alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to using concrete and steel.
‘A progressive approach could reduce construction emissions by 95 per cent,’ the firm added.
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ elaborated Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper.
‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon, changing the course of climate change.’
According to the firm, up to 120 tons of carbon could be sequestered per square kilometre (46 tons per square mile) if urban hardscapes were converted into gardens, cities were re-built as intense carbon-absorbing landscapes and streets were retrofitted with additional carbon-capture technologies.
Furthermore, they suggested, this figure could be nearly tripled if these strategies were also applied in parks and other green spaces.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today. Depicted: an illustration of how the tower’s design would allow it to take it carbon dioxide for storage or usage, while also producing products like biofuel
The tower design’s ‘stack effect’ would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system. Pictured: an artist’s impression of the ‘Urban Sequoia’ concept
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper. ‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon’
‘If the Urban Sequoia became the baseline for new buildings, we could realign our industry to become the driving force in the fight against climate change,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman — a nod to how construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions.
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ Ms Hasman continued.
‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year.
With immediate focus and investment in SOM’s prototype, we can start this process now and build the first Urban Sequoia,’ she concluded.
The Urban Sequoia concept was presented by Mr Jackson and Ms Hason in COP26’s Blue Zone on Thursday.
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
By constructing the buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon that conventional alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to the use of concrete and steel. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
RESEARCHERS USE ‘ARTIFICIAL’ TREES CLEAN THE AIR IN CITIES
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration
CityTrees – also known as artificial trees – use living plants and different types of mosses to capture toxins and remove pollutants from the surrounding environment to produce clean air.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis.
This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen.
They can also harbour friendly bacteria which further helps trap pollutants.
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration.
Each self-sustaining CityTree contains a water tank, irrigation systems and sensors to monitor plant growth and ensure they are healthy. The technology is powered by a combination of on-board solar panels and internal batteries.
Each CityTree which has the pollution-reduction benefits of 275 normal trees.
Similar structures have previously been employed in other cities — including Berlin and Hong Kong — along with temporary trials across London.
Plants also help soak up air pollutants directly. Studies have found that the worst offending air pollution for human health is PM2.5 or airborne fine particulate matter.
These particulates are dangerous because they can get deep into your lungs, or even pass into your bloodstream.
Particulates are found in higher concentrations in urban areas, particularly along main roads.
One study from researchers at Beijing Forestry University in 2017 found ‘foliage acts as a bio-filter of air pollution and improves air quality due to the leaves’ rough texture and large contact area’.
But the issue with relying on regular trees and plants to filter the air and remove carbon dioxide and pollutants is that they themselves are highly dependent on the environment.
If they are not thriving due to disease, drought or vandalism, they will fail to clean the air effectively.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis. This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. Plants also directly soak up pollutants
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