Holcim Foundation
4th Forum – “Economy of Sustainable Construction”


4th Forum – “Economy of Sustainable Construction”

About The Event

Since the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction was formed in 2003, awareness of the interlinkages between sustainable development and the construction sector has increased considerably. First promulgated by scientists and politicians, the capacity of the construction sector to positively contribute to enhancing sustainability has become an issue of widespread importance.

During the first wave of the debate, ecological aspects were dominant: climate change, global warming, peak oil, energy savings and water scarcity were the primary topics for which quick and tangible solutions were espoused. The overall strategy was the sharp reduction of human consumption and the focus of sustainable development was to a large extent outside the framework of business and social progress. The ongoing economic challenges in many parts of the industrialized world are drivers of a paradigm shift: governments, companies and individuals became aware that although sustainable development has a (rather high) price, it offers considerable economic potential. This change in the perception from a mainly restrictive to more expansive perspective of sustainable development is viewed through different lenses depending upon the economic situation: in Europe, green buildings and clean- tech industries are seen as substantial growth drivers – whereas the economic situation in developing countries with burgeoning megacities demand huge levels of foreign investment just to achieve minimum living standards. Both attempts consider sustainable construction an important paradigm for development, and depend strongly on a sound global economy although their inception and goals are different.

The demand for greater economic performance competes with other human needs such as food, living space, health and education – but also promises additional jobs and prosperity. For sustainable development, and especially sustainable construction in particular, to move beyond “empty words”, this dilemma must be resolved. This means that the question whether sustainable construction offers certain financial benefits or not has to be answered at any scale (single building, neighborhood and urban cluster), at any level (individual, company and society), and for any region (emerging and highly industrialized countries). This question of global relevance forms the thematic framework of the 4th International Holcim Forum: “ECOnomy of Sustainable Construction”. 

Keynote speakers at the 4th Holcim Forum:

Sir David Chipperfield: a multiple award winning architect, Principal of David Chipperfield Architects, based in London, UK; and Curator for the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Alejandro Aravena: architect and Executive Director of Elemental based in Santiago, Chile, a socially-motivated company that works on infrastructure, transportation, public space and housing projects, and is partnered by the Universidad Católica de Chile.

Lucas Bretschger: economist and Professor of Economics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland; Director of CER-ETH, the Center for Economic Research at ETH, and a member of the Advisory Body on Climate Change to the Swiss government.

Brinda Somaya: architect and urban conservationist from Mumbai, India; Principal Architect and Managing Director at Somaya and Kalappa Consultants; founding trustee of the HECAR Foundation; and advocate of the work of women architects in South Asia.


Workshops and mobile workshops:

Workshop groups, led by contributions from more than 20 international experts, advanced concepts for a sustainable built environment in sessions on the topics of:

“Local resources: Leveraging regional skills and metabolism”

“Compact city: Sustainable or just sustaining economic law?”

“Retained diversity: Maintaining strengths while upgrading informal habitats”

“Overall value: Harnessing all benefits from sustainable construction”

Forum Details

Economy of Sustainable Construction
April 10 to April 13, 2013

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