Greater urgency needed to green up London’s built environment

More inclusivity must be built into London's smart city agenda to safeguard its infrastructure against future climate threats, a leading sustainability analyst has warned.

Forum for the Future CEO Peter Madden spoke of the importance of futureproofing big cities like London so that they could function effectively as low carbon hubs as demand grows for more housing stock and transport frameworks.

Speaking at the launch of Open-City’s GreenSky Thinking week in London earlier today, Madden said that despite common knowledge of the key mega-trends such as climate change, rising population and the digital space, many companies were not adapting their operations in preparation for them.

“It’s remarkable how many firms are not yet thinking about or acting on these trends,” he told delegates.

Madden added that powerful institutions such as governments or big corporations could help “create the future” through their sphere of influence, by predicting the range of possible future scenarios that could occur when these mega-trends intersect and plan accordingly.

In terms of futureproofing, he said that those cities that invest early in digital platforms would be a “good bet” and that building greater inclusivity into this data utilisation will result in much smarter social engineering.

As an example, Madden pointed to San Francisco where city planners encouraged cyclists to use an app so they could study their route flows through the city to build in smoother logistical networks for them.

Crossrail’s sustainability manager Mike de Silva also highlighted the need for the capital’s planners to engage in more “crystal ball gazing” especially if London aspired to be a world class city.

“We need to look much more strategically and holistically at future infrastructure. How we interlink our infrastructure with technology to cope with climate change scenarios – that’s going to be very important,” he maintained.

De Silva added that architects needed to get away from their “addiction to glass and steel” and start adopting more sustainable strategies such as biomimicry and improving biodiversity.

Maxine Perella

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