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Net Zero City Book Launch

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the book launch of the recently published “Net Zero City” by Langdon Morris and Farah Naz. Presenting a ten-year transformational roadmap for cities to overcome the climate crises and attain Net Zero by 2032.

Held at the Canadian University of Dubai, a panel discussion on how we can make climate action a reality was held with sustainable strategists and industry leaders following an introduction to the book which offers an action-orientated study of the steps needed to achieve net-zero city. One which achieves zero carbon emissions from energy solutions that are incorporated and how that will result in a city which is more liveable with regards to the health and wellbeing of all inhabitants.

Currently cities occupy only 3% of the world’s total landmass but consume 75% of global resources and produce c.80% of global Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG). This demonstrates clearly that when it comes to climate action, cities are powerfully positioned as critical drivers for high impact and must become the drivers of change.

We radically need to transform the way that we plan and design our cities, the UN predicts that by 2050 a building footprint equivalent in size to that which already exists today across the globe will need to be reproduced to accommodate the expected population growth that they estimate. As professionals in the built environment, along with city leaders and decision makers and of course, city dwellers, those of us for who the cities are needed, we can no longer allow the status quo to continue. We all have agency in building our communities without designing-in negative impact for our health, the environment, and our interconnected urban future.

Morris and Naz detail how “an integrated systems thinking approach, backed by science, supported by data, and etched by human ingenuity, will enable us to rise up to meet the challenge of climate change over a decade”. It is an incredibly ambitious challenge. Across the world our cities have evolved and grown over centuries but tasked as we are in the delivery of building stock equal to that which we have achieved across our history through city expansions over the next single generation, we need to deconstruct and reimagine how we do things.

Urban governance and policy making must better align with and support urban design and master planning. The built environment must actively address food, energy, and water security for all its inhabitants, equally. Infrastructure must be adapted and extended to serve renewable, clean, and alternative energies worldwide. The outdated and unsustainable linear economy of Take, Make and Dispose must be replaced by a circular one which permits human developments to grow within planetary boundaries. Equity, transparency, and resilience must be designed and built into our cities to allow us to future proof our most reliable asset.

100 examples are offered of how global cities are already leading the way, but the main component that needs addressing, is the mindset change that we are urged to undertake. A new urban paradigm is needed, and the authors advise us to determine what are the key positions that a city has to take to assess, act, accelerate and achieve a decarbonised future, for each and every city.

A copy of the roadmap can be downloaded here (https://netzerocitybook.com/roadmap/) and the book is available from amazon.

Tags #netzerocitybook #netzerocarbon #urbanism #urbandesign #climateaction

Sandra Woodall

This blog was created by tangram’s Design Director and founder of tangramTERRA Ms Sandra Woodall, a passionate environmentalist, architect, urbanist, researcher, pre-covid travelholic and baker of vegan treats. She is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and the Academy of Urbanism (AoU). Sandra is an award-winning designer who leads our MENA region studio who were recognised as the “2019 MENA Architecture Firm of the Year” by the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), and who have received accolades including six international sustainable design awards for five different projects in four years. She is the RIBA Regional Ambassador for Sustainability, promoting and developing UK design and management skills across the MENA region, and is the UAE country representative on the RIBA Gulf Chapter. She founded, curates and presents the Chapters’ ongoing “Sustainable Development Series” to share awareness, knowledge, skills, tools and best practice with built environment professionals across the GCC and to showcase projects, methods, procedures and strategies to empower and equip us all to meet the challenges faced in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across the region.

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