Thursday, 17 March 2011

Arup director Peter Head outlines his vision for the "ecological age"

Juliet Heller hears Peter Head, director of Arup and chair of The Institute for Sustainability, outline his vision for the "ecological age".

Peter Head has recently undertaken a three-year global tour to explore policies and investments to achieve what he calls the “ecological age”, reducing CO2 by 80 percent by 2050.

His main findings are that sustainable green growth needs community involvement, and cities have to be transformed.

He summarised the approaches needed:
-linking up renewable energy in communities and enabling them to make money from it;
-expanding the use of electric vehicles;
-taking cars out of inner cities (eg Seoul, S Korea where a motorway has been converted to a river, replacing cars with boats for transport and China where 5 percent of GDP is invested in high speed rail);
-growing more food in cities – using any space available such as rooftops
-using large scale biogas digesters as in Stockholm
-learning from examples such as the eco-city in Wangzhung, China designed by Arup.

Peter’s main case study is one that is still in the development stage (perhaps this illustrates the problem we face in the UK – not enough large scale examples). The planned ‘Total Community Retrofit’ project is being developed by the Institute of Sustainability and Arup.

This will help accelerate the transition to a low carbon way of life, creating new jobs and boosting the economy. They will connect urban and rural areas, and retrofit 20,000 homes using a street-by-street approach, financed by pension funds. It aims to share learning by building a knowledge hub, encouraging the idea to be replicated at the regional level.

(Peter Head was speaking at the Ecobuild conference in London.)

No comments: