Last week Footprint attended RESET’s Ecosystems services conference at the Museum of London. The City of London green roof tour in the morning, reported on Footprint here, was followed by an afternoon conference.
Chair Jim McClelland introduced the ecosystems topic as being mostly ‘a connectivity issue’ and presented the speakers:
- ecologist Gary Grant, Chair of IHDC Judging Board
- Chris Knight, Assistant Head of Sustainability & Climate Change at PwC
- Brian McDonald of Natural England
- Dave Farebrother, Environmental Director of Land Securities
- Andrew Jones, Programme Manager of Urban Greening & Biodiversity, GLA.
Gary talked about the need to mimic nature and integrate a multitude of aspects: climate, water, energy generation, landscape, ecology, design and communities into multi-functional interventions. He further discussed key elements of green infrastructure (water, green roofs, living walls, etc) and stressed the need for trans-disciplinary work, including: architects, landscape architects, ecologists, sustainable consultants, owners and planners.
Chris Knight presented the work PwC has done, talking about the TEEB study (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), and their Manual for cities - ecosystem services in urban management. He pointed out that ‘functioning ecosystems deliver economic value’. He presented case studies of their work and the Guide to Corporate Ecosystems Valuation System developed at WBCSD.
Brian talked about the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and highlighted the fact that design needs to be done at a ‘landscape scale’. Dave also pointed out that there is a need for integration of different professions, and then went on to describe issues tackled on projects dealing with tree planting, planters, and vertical green walls in the City. Andrew talked about the London plan and stressed the importance of the natural environment as ‘essential infrastructure’ for the city.
During the break we were offered some samples of honey produced in the Museum’s rooftop beehives.
The speakers were joined by Sarah Cary, Sustainable Developments Executive of British Land, Dusty Gedge, Director of Livingroofs.org and President of the European Federation of Green Roof Associations, Simon Mills, Head of Sustainable Development at the Corporation of the City of London, and Dr Bob Bloomfield, Head of Special Projects at the Natural History Museum, Co-ordinator of the UK Friends of the UN Decade of Biodiversity 2011 - 2020, for a panel discussion which covered a wide range of topics:
- making the City a place one ‘wants to be in’, especially for a third of a million commuters
- the challenge of retrofitting existing fabric to improve and include ecosystems
- the need to integrate SUDS, with tree planting initiatives (integrating green and blue infrastructures)
- lack of a standard to evaluate ecosystems
- pushing businesses, through policy, to look beyond their own environmental impact /site limits, and influence others, making green infrastructure a wider issue
Next, we were invited to have a first glance at the IHDC 2011 winning and shortlisted entries. The exhibition was followed later in the evening by the awards ceremony, celebrating this year’s winners.
IHDC 2011 Winner:
ShrubhillWorks - Michael Bryan
Located in Leith, Edinburgh, the winning design proposes a permaculture based co-housing scheme
Hafod Copperworks - Lee Miles & Jennifer Acayan
Holytown Swift Boxes - Clare Darlaston, Jackie Gilliland, Graeme Muir & Concern for Swifts (Scotland)
Neepsend, Sheffield - Radu Costin Sava & Xiao Guo
Rehabilitation - Architecture for Change with Chloe Rayfield & Cristina Blanco
Hebden Bridge Primary School - Ryan Groves & Chris Turner
Overall, a great event aimed at raising awareness about improving the way we live in cities and signalling the need for approaches to urban environment design which are ‘restorative to biodiversity and habitats’. The conference showcased initiatives and designs that integrate ecosystems into the urban fabric to create healthier, livable cities, better equipped to adapt to climate change.
For a closer look at this year’s competition entries, click here.
by Diana Dina, AJ sustainability intern
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Filed under: Green event