We can build resilient cities of the future – today

Mirella Vitale
Mirella Vitale
November 26, 2020

Cities and urban areas increasingly find themselves facing the direct impact of mega challenges like the corona-pandemic and the global climate crisis. By building robust, resilient communities, we can secure the cities of the future

By 2050, more than two-thirds of the world’s population are expected to live and work in urban areas. Urban planning is vital to help cities withstand the very real and immediate challenges of climate change, and to be able to recover quickly from extreme events such as intense downpours, runaway wildfires and rapidly spreading epidemics that continue to put urban populations under increasing pressure.

But there is good news. However gloomy the future might seem, we have both the technology and know-how to start to build and refurbish our cities to make them more resilient and sustainable. Municipalities are already implementing innovative solutions, and new technologies are being invented all the time. We simply need to make the decision to start reinventing our communities and make the new ones as climate and people friendly as possible.

Using sustainable design practices and considerations for every building going forward can help make future cities more resilient, and improve the quality of life for the inhabitants.

Buildings make a difference

On a global scale, buildings account for around one-third of global energy consumption and 20 percent of CO2 emissions. In Europe, buildings account for 40 percent of the total primary energy consumption. More than 36 percent of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions are generated in buildings, through heating and lighting, water supply, air conditioning and construction. To future-proof our urban areas, it is crucial that builders and architects look creatively at ways to reduce buildings’ carbon footprint and tackle climate change.

Energy efficiency renovation is one of the main ways that cities can be made greener and even more compatible with the increasing urbanisation and the demand for healthy indoor environments. After all., saving one kilowatt hour of energy through stone wool insulation results in 480 and 220 times less carbon emissions than generating that same kilowatt hour from coal and gas respectively.

Old can be gold

Moving toward resilient cities does not necessarily mean removing old buildings and starting all over again. Old buildings make our cities unique. What we can do is upgrade this existing building stock so that it is safer, more thermally efficient and requires far less energy to heat, cool or power them.

As part of the urban population, we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors. So it becomes particularly important that our buildings protect and enhance our health and well-being. The right solutions and materials can go a long way to protect us from risks such as traffic pollution, noise, humidity, moulds, and fire hazards.

A circular way forward

As the Earth’s resources are rapidly diminishing, and demand for raw materials continues to increase, it is clear that greater efforts will have to be made to recycle our materials to a greater extent. Applying circularity principles to renovation projects and new structures empowers us to minimise the consumption of scarce resources, cut costs and reduce landfill waste, leading to more sustainable architecture and design practices that add resilience to cities of the future.

The cities of the world are living organisms, but to make them evolve towards more comfortable, resilient, and sustainable environments, we need to push from all sides. From urban planners, to policy-makers, from the construction industry to municipalities – and of course by making our own sustainable choices – we all have a part to play in future-proofing our cities. The solutions and technology to provide a safe and healthy existence for all citizens exists, but we must decide to use them and hold each other accountable to ensure that we follow through.

To find out how stone wool insulation products can improve your next renovation or new building project, reach out to ROCKWOOL Group today.

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