Re-imagining the Holcim Foundation

End of Year Message from Laura Viscovich

In 2003, the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction pioneered the definition of what came to be an internationally recognized set of sustainability principles for the built environment. Since the Foundation’s inception two decades ago, the need to address and optimize social, economic, and environmental impacts from development has only increased – as has the world’s attention on the concept of sustainability.

Last updated: December 11, 2022

Office of the Holcim Foundation

Laura Viscovich, Executive Director of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.

From the global housing crisis, climate mitigation and climate adaptation, to ecosystem restoration and regeneration, the construction sector is gradually acknowledging that it not only has the responsibility but also the power to tackle challenges facing humanity and the biosphere we depend upon. Hundreds of organizations across the globe – non-profits, academic incubators, governmental organizations, and industry associations – have stepped up to focus on different aspects of sustainable design and construction. In just the past two years, the built environment has finally emerged as a key issue at COP26 and COP27 with the creation of multiple coalitions to drive collective and interdisciplinary action. However, the incremental steps taken to date are still not enough – climate change indicators and impacts continue to worsen.

Faced with the urgency of the situation, but also blessed with an extraordinary network of academic experts, practitioners and influential voices who have shaped the Foundation’s thought leadership over the years, I was guided by one key question when appointed Executive Director of the Holcim Foundation in January of this year: how can we accelerate our impact as an organization, and, in doing so, speed up the global movement for sustainable construction?

A refreshed vision, brought to life on our new website

While the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and engineering remain at the heart of our strategy to promote sustainable design, we recognize that actors across the entire global construction value chain must work together to drive the transformation of our future built environment. We are convinced that several interdependent goals and guiding principles must be understood, mainstreamed, and implemented to achieve the systemic change required.

Goals and Principles of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

For this reason, we undertook work to refresh the Foundation’s historic principles, or “target issues”, and to create a framework that outlines a clear pathway towards a sustainable and regenerative built environment. I invite you to find out more about our Goals and Principles for sustainable construction, and, while you are there, to spend a few more minutes browsing the Foundation’s new website. The site reflects our three strategic objectives: to support the transfer of knowledge and ideas; to grow an intergenerational community of future-makers; and to promote best-practice solutions in sustainable design.

A more agile approach to increase our reach

From the Holcim Awards to our support for Next Generation innovators and our thought leadership formats, we are evolving all our programs to ensure that we keep in step with the impact at scale and speed needed, but that we also collaborate more broadly with an ever-increasing ecosystem of like-minded individuals and organizations.

Global Holcim Awards presentation in Venice, Italy.

Global and Regional Holcim Awards prizes - ready for winners' announcements on 13 November 2021.

The Holcim Awards 2023 will launch in February next year and will re-focus on projects in the late design stage that can become real-world case studies for the global design and construction community. In parallel, we will pilot a new Next Generation grants process in 2023, which will evolve into a larger-scale program in 2024 to support students and young practitioners. Our events programming will, in turn, focus on gathering fresh thinkers and established experts who can inform regionally relevant topics and also contribute to a global panorama of the state of sustainable construction.

Respecting our DNA: always people first

It has been amazing to step into an organization that benefits from a truly international community of passionate future-makers, from past and present Board members and Holcim Awards winners, to our dynamic network of Next Generation talents.

Office of the Holcim Foundation - October 2022

Members of the Holcim Foundation team in October 2022 (l-r): Priya Pawar, Sibylle Bielefeldt-Wütschert, Laura Viscovich, Olivier Puech, Annie Nguyen, Rena Giesecke, Maria del Pilar Porras Villarreal and Kevin Jones.

I would like to take this opportunity to firstly pay tribute to Edward Schwarz who built this community and very sadly passed away earlier this year. We are determined that the spirit of this community will live on – and flourish – as we start a new chapter for the Foundation. Secondly, I thank past Foundation employees and the new members of the team who have embarked upon this impact adventure with me this year. For the first time, the Office of the Foundation has a team of scientific program managers with specific areas of expertise in sustainable design and development. Together, with our communications experts and coordinators, we are excited about the new chapter ahead and about our collective opportunity, as a global community, to accelerate the movement for sustainable construction.

I wish you all the best for this holiday season and for the year to come, and I invite you to stay tuned in 2023!

Laura Viscovich, Executive Director of the Holcim Foundation