Forum 2013 – Economy of Sustainable Construction – Mumbai (Ruby Press)

Inspired by the 4th International Holcim Forum, Mumbai, India

The Economy of Sustainable Construction examines how sustainability can deliver a robust response to fiscal challenges. The book evaluates current architectural practices and models, and also introduces materials and methods to maximize the environmental, social, and economic performance of buildings.

Contained within its 400 pages are essays, reports, and case studies that examine the relationship between commercial and sustainable values, and explore the paths that construction will take in the 21st century. The Economy of Sustainable Construction points out the urgency of adapting more sustainable construction practices and buildings in the light of rapid urbanization, the vast growths of today’s giant cities, the sluggish economy, and burgeoning climate issues.

The Economy of Sustainable Construction, edited and published by Ruby Press Berlin was supported by the Holcim Foundation. Inspired by the 4th International Holcim Forum held in Mumbai in 2013, the authors propose how architecture, engineering and construction can contribute to the challenges of a global economy – in the shadow of increasing urbanization, demands for ever more economic growth around the world, compounded by serious environmental and social consequences. The experts examine how a sustainable future could be secured without making radical changes to the economic system.

Even though sustainability is widely held to be “the right thing to do,” a major barrier to a sustainable revolution in the construction industry has been its initial higher price, whether perceived or real. The case studies and research in The Economy of Sustainable Construction challenges the assumption that sustainable construction costs more and also deconstructs outmoded methodologies for evaluating the profitability of a building.

The Economy of Sustainable Construction explores new paradigms of construction and prosperity that can work with our environment, rather than against it. No panacea for the environmental, economic, and social problems is presented in the book, but two broad strategies are postulated: firstly, short-term economic incentives for sustainable construction and; secondly, more holistic approaches to building concerned less with profits and more with social and ecological sustainability.

Bibliographic details 

The Economy of Sustainable Construction
Ilka & Andreas Ruby, Nathalie Janson (eds)
Binding/Format: Hardcover, English, 416 pages, 23.5 x 17.5 cm
Imprint: Ruby Press: Berlin, 2013
ISBN: 978-3-944074-07-8

Ordering instructions

Order directly from the publisher, Ruby Press, for €38 per copy (excl. handling charges):

Table of Contents

Graphic Introduction


  • Putting Sustainability in the Black
    Ilka & Andreas Ruby and Nathalie Janson


  • Introduction: Reinventing Technology Locally
    Hansjürg Leibundgut
  • Local Alternatives: Replacing Steel with Bamboo
    Dirk Hebel
  • Neighborhoods In-Formation: Engaging with Local Building Practices in Mumbai
    Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava
  • Social Capital Credits: A New Currency for Sustainability
    Geeta Mehta
  • The Sharing Economy Comes Home: New Housing Trends and Practices That Are Changing How We Live
    Yassi Eskandari-Qajar
  • Building Out of Clay
    Francis Kéré



  • Introduction: Revisiting the Compact City
    Harry Gugger and Gwendolyn Kerschbaumer
  • The Sustainable Densities Proposition: Why Densification Is Not Always the Answer
    Shlomo Angel
  • The Politics and Planning of Urban Compaction: The Case of the London Metropolitan Region
    Philipp Rode
  • The Compact City: Sustainable, or Just Sustaining the Economy?
    Harry Gugger and Gwendolyn Kerschbaumer
  • Sprawl: A Strategy? From Closed System Dynamics to Open Systems Ecologies
    Pierre Bélanger
  • Lessons Learned from Mumbai: Planning Challenges for the Compact City
    Rahul Mehrotra
  • Sustainability as the Rigorous Use of Common Sense
    Alejandro Aravena


  • Introduction: Putting a Price on Sustainability
    Holger Wallbaum and Annika Feige
  • The Green New Deal: Subordinating Finance to the Interests of Society and the Ecosystem
    Ann Pettifor
  • Built for the Moment: Designing for a Fast-Paced World
    Lena Kleinheinz
  • Handle with Care: How Useful Is the Research on Green Building Prices?
    Patrick McAllister
  • Raising the Bottom Line: How Sustainability Affects Occupant Health and Productivity
    Gail S. Brager
  • Balancing Sustainability, Quality, and Affordability: The CASA Rating for Affordable Housing
    Vishnu Swaminathan and Martina Wengle
  • Architecture Is Here to Stay
    David Chipperfield

Roundtable Discussion

Case Studies

  • Economical and Sustainable! Twenty-one examples, compiled and illustrated by the architecture practice Something Fantastic, of how economy and sustainability go hand in hand.
    Something Fantastic


  • Biographies, Image Credits, Donor Acknowledgement

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