We don’t need sustainable buildings – We need sustainable people

  • YEAR
    Slee, Ben
    2020 Conference Papers
    Carbon Reduction in Built Environments
    Conference Papers


The UN has called for global CO2-e emissions to be reduced by 7.6% each year for a decade. The built environment is responsible for a significant proportion of emissions and consumption and most buildings (98% in Australia) already exist. Therefore, if we are to meet this challenge, we need to find ways of engaging with the people who use and operate existing buildings and organisations. This paper argues that architects are in a unique position to help solve this problem and help communities become genuinely more sustainable because of architect’s ability to embrace complexity, the multifaceted nature of problems and integrate knowledge to solve social problems. The response must be social rather than technical or scientific, although it must incorporate both, because the solutions challenge the identity and self-esteem of individuals and whole communities and so elicit powerful emotional responses in opposition to them. If we are to create buildings and communities that are genuinely sustainable, we must engage with those building-communities in a meaningful way to develop strategies that they are able and willing to implement. The relationship between people and their environment is at the heart of a sustainable response to climate change.

Keywords: Environmental performance, Community consultation, Design-Thinking, High-performance


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