Ecosystem Resilience & Restoration

The power to heal and regenerate the environment

The footprint of the built environment in terms of emissions, resource use and waste production creates an enormous opportunity to contribute to sustainability.

With the built environment contributing 40% of global carbon emissions, and the emissions embodied in the materials and construction of buildings contributing 11% of global emissions (about as much as all automobiles), it’s up to architects, landscape architects, and other building professionals who are designing places and objects in places, whether temporary or permanent, to commit to doing no harm, and whenever possible contributing to regeneration and healing of the environment.

Instead of doing less damage to the environment, it is necessary to learn how one can participate with the environment by using the health of ecological systems as a basis for design. Bill Reed

We have reached a crucial point in time in terms of the environmental change our ecosystems can cope with. Doing “less bad” is no longer enough, we must “do good” and strive not only to restore, but to regenerate our social and ecological systems. Six out of the nine planetary boundaries have been trespassed to date, with the remaining few on a critical path. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, issued in February 2022, warns of an emission tipping points being reached in 2025, which essentially means that our window to limit our emissions to 1.5°C above pre-industrial age is closing.

In a COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) research report entitled Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative, the framework of possible incremental stages of action is defined:

  • Sustainability: Limiting impact. The balance point where we give back as much as we take.
  • Restorative: Restoring social and ecological systems to a healthy state.
  • Regenerative: Enabling social and ecological systems to maintain a healthy state and to evolve.

We cannot achieve this transformative and innovative potential through sustainability alone. The built environment must be instrumental to address the most pressing climate and humanitarian challenges by systems thinking and by restoring the severed relationship between humans and their systems and nature.