- Article by Online Editor
Tony Arnel, Chair of the World Green Building Council and Green Building Council of Australia, has claimed that high-rise buildings are not the solution to creating more sustainable cities.
Speaking at the GDay USA Forum in Boston on 27 January, Arnel said the industry needed to challenge conventional thinking, and explore the myths that green buildings are too expensive and that high-rise buildings are more environmentally friendly than the suburban home.
According to research carried out by Allen Consulting for the World Green Building Council, there is no conclusive evidence to substantiate claims that vertical living is a greener solution than conventional homes.
Instead, Arnel argued, the industry needs to focus on green buildings and retrofitting the existing building stock. Green building is one of the most powerful and cost effective mechanisms for improving environmental outcomes at both a local and global level, he said, yet the strong business case for green buildings continues to fall on many deaf ears.
In Australia, we seem to be having once in a hundred year weather events with such frequency that they will soon be re-casting the frequency statistics. The economic and environmental risks we are running make inaction an absurd response.
Arnel argued that the process of building and re-building would not sufficiently improve the environmental performance of our cities, with new buildings in the US and Australia only accounting for 1-2 percent of the total building stock.
Cities account for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. This makes the built environment the largest single source of emissions far more than the more obvious industries such as transport and manufacturing.
Arnel highlighted Melbournes 1200 Buildings program as an example of urban regeneration, an initiative that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 380,000 tonnes per year by retrofitting two-thirds of the citys commercial buildings.