‘Smart’ built environment

It is very important to think about how the built environment can maintain more sustainable lifestyles. This is because there are a lot of critical challenges facing the world. Like resource scarcity, climate change, increasing population, increased urbanization and burgeoning middle classes. And one of the most important facts, that 70% of current building stock will still exist in 2030. So the built environment should encourage and support sustainable lifestyles in terms of both efficiency and wellbeing.

The built environment can contribute to the social elements of sustainability by enabling healthier lifestyles and greater community cohesion through design. It can also contribute to a greater sense of wellbeing. An example of this is the collaboration between city agencies in New York that led to the publication of Active Design Guidelines. These guidelines highlight the opportunities to increase changes for physical activity and active transportation in everyday places. And the guidelines say that they want more attractive buildings and more engaging places for the encouragement of positive changes to public health.

The future of the built environment will also be inspired by the natural world. There already are some projects like Biomimicry and living architecture that have set the trend. Another example is the Coldharbour Lane in London where green roofs provide green space in high density urban areas. These green roofs also provide biodiversity and thermal insulation and they are based on Skanska’s ModernaHus concept.

But it’s not just the built environment that will change because of Smart technologies, they way citizens interact with the built environment will also change. Technologies enable buildings to respond to external conditions like the weather and time and adjust accordingly. Invisible  impacts can be made visible with data visualization. This has a positive impact on the behavior of those who use the buildings.

It is important to think about how the buildings of the future can stand up to new and different challenges. Innovative and creative technologies must be used in these buildings. But we must keep in mind that the buildings of the future will also be the buildings of today, adjusted with technologies. Professionals within the building environment and other, external stakeholders will have to work together to enable that buildings will be fit for purpose in the future. And infrastructures will have to be more efficient while also contributing to the health and wellbeing of the people.

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