The built environment has a huge impact on our lives. Those that help to shape this environment have an enormous influence and responsibility.
We are building today for tomorrow?s world ? building for future extension, expansion or re-use. In 50 years time most of what we are building today will still be around, but the world will almost certainly be a very different place. We need to protect our assets. Conserve our resources. Guard our future.
The Innovation Park at BRE provides a live demonstration of the effective implementation of innovation in the built environment
Some of the UK?s greatest environmental impacts come from buildings. Forty-five percent of UK carbon emissions come from buildings, making them a key target if we are to achieve 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Thirty-two percent of all landfill waste comes from the construction and demolition of buildings. Innovative design, products, systems and processes are required if we are to deliver a sustainable built environment for tomorrow and deliver business benefit for all built environment stakeholders.
INTELLIGENT AND GREEN BUILDINGS
Take for example green buildings, where the drivers are social and moral, and whose objectives are to make the best use of available resources to improve economic, environmental and social performance.
Compare these with the aims of intelligent buildings, which are to make the very best use of information to improve performance and improve value; which information, what performance and which value depends on the viewpoint and needs of the stakeholder.
The trick, of course, is to find that compromise which is both ?intelligent? and ?green?. The increase of smarter, more responsive, digitallybased technologies into homes and workplaces is increasingly bringing results in many ways, with information technology introducing an ?intelligent nervous system? into the building ? controlling, monitoring and reporting building performance right through from enterprise to individual person level. Through the use of highly accurate monitoring systems it is now possible to measure, not just the building?s carbon footprint, but the individual working footprints of its inhabitants. It will therefore be possible to fine-tune work processes to achieve ever more positive results.
Our climate is changing; we are experiencing warmer, wetter weather. This is placing new strains on our ageing infrastructure and buildings in terms of increased risk of flooding and potential overheating, particularly in urban areas. Innovative solutions are required to ensure that our built environment responds to these challenges.
Many of the predicted climate change scenarios will affect buildings and infrastructure, causing damage to fabric and increasing vulnerability to extreme events. Higher temperatures will dry out soils, increase subsidence and cause overheating problems during hot summers whilst wetter winters will result in increased condensation and mould. Rain could penetrate building fabrics and flooding could damage infrastructure.
Society?s awareness of the climatic impact on buildings and infrastructure is now greater than ever. With this shift in perspective, there is a need for new, innovative approaches to tackling the challenges presented by climate change, creating significant opportunities for new technologies and environmental management solutions.
FLEXIBILITY, ADAPTABILITY AND RESILIENCE
The UK?s infrastructure and building stock is operating well beyond the design life commonly applied to new and replacement structures. Mass replacement of these assets is not an option; therefore owners must maintain their assets in a safe, efficient and economic way as well as looking to innovative life-extending technologies.
Resilience provides a different set of factors to be considered. Some of these are intrinsic to the building, such as the robustness of the structure or the skin to respond to natural occurrences such as earthquakes or man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks. Others are related to the business processes of the organisation such as its geographic spread and the level of redundancy built into business-critical systems.
Innovative solutions are required to ensure that what we build today will be flexible, adaptable and resilient to future changes. Given that 90% of today?s buildings are existing stock rather than new, we need to find innovative solutions to make them more flexible, adaptable and resilient.
The UK population is getting older. The number of people of state pension age is projected to increase by 34% by 2031.
We cannot continue to look after people with extra-care needs using current labour-intensive practices. Digital systems can potentially revolutionise the delivery of health and social care. Smart monitoring and electronic links to healthcare providers can enable people to remain living independently in their own homes and communities for much longer, reducing costs and increasing quality of life.
Innovation in the design, specification and delivery of buildings and infrastructure is necessary to ensure we build an inclusive environment that can be used by all of our society. The Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network aims to stimulate increased innovation and support its effective implementation for business benefit in the modern built environment. It is working with industry to facilitate innovation in all of the areas outlined above and help ensure that we deliver an effective built environment for tomorrow.
Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network. Website: www.mbektn.co.uk
Added the 11 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1