ULI NEXT UK Introduce New Vice-Chairs
Didem Erendil and Matt Walker have been appointed vice-chairs of the ULI NEXT UK committee.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a tragedy of catastrophic proportions. Beyond the widespread loss of life, it’s kept friends and families apart, and disrupted normal patterns of living.
However, it has also prompted a re-shifting of perspective that gives us a chance to rethink how we should design and fund the built environment.
Currently, a lot of focus – and rightly so – is on reducing the environmental impact of our cities and making them greener places to live. The UN suggests that globally, cities consume 78 percent of the world’s total energy and produce more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings alone account for 36 percent of Europe’s carbon emissions, according to the European Commission.
However, the environment is just one-third of ESG.
The social aspect of ESG should be just as high up the agenda. It’s possible to create cities that put people first and encourage citizens to live healthier, happier lives. Developments that incorporate cultural infrastructure and public art into their designs, a theme that ULI UK explored in our Urban Art Forum report, can have a meaningful quantitative impact on respondents’ wellbeing. Measuring and benchmarking the social performance of a building needs to be a metric considered on par with commercial performance.
Key to creating such radical change will be collaboration. First, by connecting finance to innovators in the built environment. Much as those designing the cities of the future need the capital to realise their vision, institutional capital is similarly dependent on ethically sound investments in order to bolster their ESG credentials, which are rising in importance.
Technology provides one clear magnet for sustainable investment. Innovation is often a driver of growth, and when new inventions are employed to create social good – such as Skyports’ drones being used to help transport Covid-19 test samples and medical materials between NHS medical facilities – it’s a win-win for investors.
At its core, ULI provides leadership in the responsible use of land. We’re in a unique position to be able to set the standards of excellence in development practice, and so it’s important to use this influence to effect meaningful and positive change. Events such as the ULI UK annual conference, which takes place this year on 10 June are key to building the networks and providing a discussion platform that enable the conversations to set the winds of change in motion.
The pandemic presents a unique opportunity to re-think and restructure our urban spaces. Let’s not miss the chance.