Making Cities Thrive

The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals on the agenda at the United Nations summit later this month reflect a world that is becoming much more urbanized. An increasing number of cities are dealing with multiple stresses, such as demographic and population shifts, new economic drivers, social equity, consumption of energy and natural resources, and rapid advancements in technology. Each of these challenges is related to Goal 11 — Sustainable Cities and Communities — as each is influencing decision-making regarding sustainable urban development for the future. However, the issue of climate change has further sharpened the 21st century emphasis on growing sustainably.

Urban planning and development has been and will be increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme heat, drought and storms of greater intensity. These destructive weather events are serving as a wake-up call that we must rethink what, where and how we build for the future.

As the sustainable-cities movement has gained momentum, we are seeing a rising number of innovative approaches to the planning, design, development, financing and insuring of real estate. And, as these strategies have evolved, we are seeing greater acceptance of the reality that it is not always possible — or wise — to keep building homes and businesses in the same places and in the same way they have always been built. This is compelling the real estate industry to work ever more closely with the public sector and other community stakeholders to develop and operate properties in a way that better protects both the built and natural environment.

Buildings contribute nearly 40 percent of global climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, and to combat the worst impacts of climate change, we need to address the energy use behind these emissions. Three important aspects of building energy impacts are location, construction and —> Read More