Society & Community Sustainable Cities & Communities Sustainable Urban Planning

A new idea in architecture - no new buildings

Sustainable Urban Planning


An effective way of analysing sustainability in the already-built environment could be using the concept of embodied energy

Perspectives and insights

  • Average life spans of buildings in the developed world are declining, to around 70 years in America and as few as 30 years in Japan.
  • The building sector accounts for about a third of global energy consumption.
  • Generally, around 80% of the systematic energy associated with a building is concerned with extraction and construction, manufacture and maintenance, demolition and decomposition; the remaining 20 percent is associated with lifetime operations like cooling and lighting.
  • Recent innovations in lower-embodied energy materials—from using fly ash as cement substitute to building big in timber —offer new approaches to new construction.
  • The most sustainable building on the planet may not be some new BREEAM- or LEED-certified construction, but something like the Pantheon in Rome.