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Opinion: Logic will get you from A to B- imagination will take you everywhere

Energy Voice

Logic will get you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere – Einstein.

The development of smart sustainable cities, a drive towards a behavioural shift to one planet living and tangible investment in the empowerment of our cities and their people.

In the EU, there are 14 million people working in the construction industry, only 12% of them are women. The industry is already facing a huge skills gap – we need to focus on developing a diverse range of people into strong environmentally focussed professionals.

People who will change our industry from the inside out; turning it into the industry of the Built Environment.

There will be challenges, the biggest being the renovation and decarbonising of our existing urban areas.

The population of our cities will continue to grow; London’s population is expected to increase by 12% over the next 12 years. The result will be greater demand being placed on our buildings, energy systems, transport and air quality.

Rising average global temperatures can also be expected; despite the targeted (2 degree centigrade) limit set 19 years ago, current trends suggest it is very likely to be breached. Our atmosphere has already heated 1 degree; the COP21 – United Nations Conference on Climate Change in December must recognise this significance of the 2 degree limit.

We can’t afford to be playing catch-up; temperature change will impact our lives.

More air pollution and respiratory diseases resulting from increased urban heat-island effects will result in a huge burden being placed on health systems.

Seas rising rapidly, biodiversity losses, significant water shortages and strains on global infrastructure are all likely in a world that is two degrees warmer.

Through the development of smart sustainable cities, relying on fresh skill-sets and therefore greater innovation, alongside new technology and respect for the Earth, we can develop processes that collaborate with, rather than damage, our natural resources.

We currently outstrip the Earth’s own ability to replenish these resources by 50% – we must learn one planet living.

To George, Smart Sustainable Cities have seven objectives:

1. environmentally friendly behaviour

2. low carbon economy

3. place and space for people

4. use of innovation and technology for high levels of efficiency

5. harmony with natural resources

6. preservation of air quality and water supplies

7. a future

George Adams is UK engineering director of SPIE

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