“Sustainability” is one of the world’s most talked about but least understood words. Its meaning is often clouded by differing interpretations and by a tendency for the subject to be treated superficially. For most companies, countries and individuals who do take the subject seriously the concept of sustainability embraces the preservation of the environment as well as critical development-related issues such as the efficient use of resources, continual social progress, stable economic growth, and the eradication of poverty.
In the world of construction, buildings have the capacity to make a major contribution to a more sustainable future for our planet. The OECD, for instance, estimates that buildings in developed countries account for more than forty percent of energy consumption. Add to this the fact that for the first time in human history over half of the world’s population now lives in urban environments and it’s clear that sustainable buildings have become vital cornerstones for securing long-term environmental, economic and social viability.
The pace of change means we don’t have the luxury of time. With urban populations worldwide swelling by around one million people every week, there’s an urgent need to come up with clever ideas that optimize the sustainable performance of the buildings that we live and work in.
Understanding sustainable construction
Sustainable construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It incorporates elements of economic efficiency, environmental performance and social responsibility – and contributes to the greatest extent when architectural quality, technical innovation and transferability are included.
Sustainable construction involves issues such as the design and management of buildings; materials performance; construction technology and processes; energy and resource efficiency in building, operation and maintenance; robust products and technologies; long-term monitoring; adherence to ethical standards; socially-viable environments; stakeholder participation; occupational health and safety and working conditions; innovative financing models; improvement to existing contextual conditions; interdependencies of landscape, infrastructure, urban fabric and architecture; flexibility in building use, function and change; and the dissemination of knowledge in related academic, technical and social contexts.
Based on this concept and to make sustainable construction easier to understand, evaluate and apply, the Holcim Foundation and its partner universities have identified a set of five “target issues” for sustainable construction, which serve as the basis for the adjudication process of the Holcim Awards and as a framework for other activities of the Holcim Foundation.
read more about the “target issues “ for sustainable construction
Making a differenceThe Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction was created in 2003 to raise awareness of the important role that architecture, engineering, urban planning and construction have in achieving a more sustainable future – and to globally encourage critical interdisciplinary and long-range perspectives.
With this in mind, the Holcim Foundation’s primary objective is to select and support a range of initiatives that extend beyond technical solutions to promoting sustainable construction approaches and solutions which embrace architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life.
Wide-ranging interest spans national, regional and global projects in both developing and industrialized nations. International and inter-disciplinary cooperation is encouraged to develop integrated solutions to the demanding challenges of sustainable construction. Furthermore, encouraging the engagement of the next generation on developing these solutions is considered critical in implementing long-range solutions to the demanding challenges of sustainable construction.
The Holcim Foundation has already made useful strides in uniting diverse global expertise and increasing awareness of the critical role of the built environment in sustainability. It has achieved this by identifying and promoting best practice and also fresh solutions. The construction projects, visions, and research inspire architects, engineers, planners, developers and contractors to adopt sustainable approaches within their building projects.
The Holcim Foundation feels privileged to be associated with an array of ground-breaking projects and initiatives, and be in a position to share the valuable knowledge and insights that arise from them.
read more about the origins of the Holcim Foundation