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Our future cities will have to be smarter and more resilient



Against a backdrop of urbanisation and increasing environmental and social threats, Miles Davey, co-founder and director of Lewis Davey, writes about the future evolution of our cities.

Our future cities are going to look a lot different than those we live in today.

For starters, you will need to get your head around urbanisation. More and more people are electing to dwell in cities. By 2050, over 70% of the population will live in cities.

At the same time, population is growing. By the middle of the 21st century, the urban population will almost double, increasing from approximately 3.4 billion in 2009 to 6.4 billion in 2050, according to the World Health Organisation.

That’s a lot of people living in cities; a lot of people looking to get on that tube at rush hour; a lot more people in one area at risk from flooding and other natural disasters. Our cities will have to evolve and become smarter and become more resilient to adapt to this mass urbanisation.

Next you need to throw in some climate change. Our temperatures are increasing, as is the intensity of storms and the risk from rising sea level and storm surges.

We might witness mass migration as large land masses become inhabitable. With an increasing population, we are likely to see an increase in consumption and resources are scarce. We are likely to see greater pressures on our infrastructure – our roads, airports and energy supply.  How we plan for that now is key, but what could our future cities look like?

Jeremy Rifkin has put forward the idea of the “third Industrial Revolution” and explores how internet technology and renewable energy are merging together. Through history, we’ve seen how the motor car has triggered the Industrial Revolution and we could well be in the midst of another revolution where every home has its own decentralised energy that intelligently talks to the grid and where energy is shared and stored through, amongst other things, electric vehicles.

I don’t doubt for a moment that we will witness a greater concentration of renewables and a more connected grid. Just look around you at the sheer number of solar installations. This has no doubt been driven by subsidies such as the feed-in tariff, but with cost of solar expected to drop continuously, we will move closer to grid parity where solar is competitive with traditional fossil fuels.

Innovation will also play its part. Who knows what disruptive technology will rear its head? One thing that is for sure is that cities will act as an immense melting pot of innovation and creativity where engineers, investors, economists and psychiatrists all collaborate – working alongside each other, together, to meet the challenges our future cities will present.

Urban design and urban planning will have a big influence, also. Sustainable masterplans must be developed to ensure that the urban form stands the test of time as we build future-ready cities.

The National Planning Policy Framework is increasingly focused upon promoting sustainable development and planning for a climate change affected future. Planners need to collaborate with a whole plethora of professionals to ensure what we build now meets the needs of individuals, businesses and both the current and future global population.

We can expect smarter buildings, better infrastructure, urban spaces that are planned to take into account mass urbanisation. But what we can’t expect is what the people who are the centre of everything in a smarter more sustainable world will innovate next.

Miles Davey is a co-founder and director of Lewis Davey and leads their cleantech and sustainability practice. Lewis Davey recruit talent and provide intelligence and business development services for smart cities across their core industries of town planning, cleantech and sustainability.

Further reading:

Green versus grey infrastructure

We need expert problem-solvers to build the cities of the future

China’s mega ‘solar cities’ are great, but sustainability is about scaling stuff down

Saving the Earth with sustainable cities: infographic analysis

Livin’ (Sustainably) in the City


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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