View the presentations from this event in our Resources section

Following on from the 2019 UNECE Glasgow Conference on City Living and events in 2020, The Academy of Urbanism continues its housing series with a conference exploring reuse as a means to deliver net zero homes and the wider role that reconfigured neighbourhoods and community-owned social housing can play towards 2050 carbon goals.

With the annual Conference of the Parties rapidly approaching, what’s different this year, according to the hosts, is that this is the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. International scientific consensus says that to prevent the worst of climate damages, global net human-made CO2 needs to fall by a daunting 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

But as countries ramp up their commitments – indeed the UK and Ireland are now both on a legally-binding path to becoming net zero by 2050 – the question is how we turn abstract agreements into practice, and particularly in the energy-thirsty residential housing market.

While new housing is being reformed through policies such as the Future Homes Standard in the UK and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings across the EU, the vast majority of buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built – estimated at 80 per cent in UK. Therefore, if net zero ambitions and climate protection are to be realised, existing homes and places have a significant role to play.

Join us for this one-day conference to find out how Net Zero is being framed by policymakers and analysts, how retrofit and reuse are being used across Europe and Ireland to tackle the carbon challenge, and what wider challenges lay ahead to achieving these planet-critical goals.

We will explore how to reimagine neighbourhood components for a low carbon future and, using the COP26 host city as a key case study, Glasgow’s commitment to community-owned social housing as a model to meet climate goals whilst providing other elements for healthy, equitable living.

Finally, we will use this conference as an opportunity to revisit two key documents: The AoU’s Urbanists Declare and the Glasgow Declaration on City Living, the latter which was conceived at the 2019 conference.


09:15 Zoom Room Opens
09:20 Welcome from Andrew Burrell, Chair of The Academy of Urbanism
09:25 Session 1: The Zero Carbon challenge for towns and cities
Chaired by Professor Sadie Morgan OBE, Director, dRMM. Chair, Quality of Life Foundation  

A Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives

Ciaran Cuffe MEP, Member of the European Parliament for Green Party and Rapporteur for A Renovation Wave for Europe  

Retofirst – The Architects’ Journal Campaign

Will Hurst, Managing Editor, AJ  

Housing 2030 - A toolkit for affordable and carbon-friendly housing

Prof. Dr. Holger Wallbaum, Professor in Sustainable Building, Chalmers University of Technology

11:00 Break
11:25 Session 2: In practice – retrofit and re-use of buildings
Chaired by Andrew Burrell, Chair, The Academy of Urbanism

People-powered retrofit
Helen Grimshaw, Senior Sustainability Consultant, URBED
Rejuvenating social housing in Berlin and Frankfurt
Thomas Kraubitz, Director and Head of Sustainability in Europe, Buro Happold Cities Europe

Existing buildings – who decides what is kept and what is demolished
Nick Walker, Collective Architecture

Learning lessons from an evaluation of a traditional tenement retrofit
Professor Ken Gibb, Director and Principal Investigator, UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE)

12:50 Lunch
13:50 Session 3: Sustainable Neighbourhoods Implementation and implications
Chaired by Chris Brown, Executive Chair, Igloo

Developing with a sustainable agenda
John Coleman, Chief Executive, Land Development Agency Ireland

Retrofitting for quality of life
Dr. Elanor Warwick, Head of Strategic Policy and Research, Clarion

Retrofitting for active neighbourhoods
Wesley Wroe, Principal Engineer, Stantec
Josh Grantham, Stantec

Delivering reuse in neighbourhoods – Kelham Island, Sheffield
Jonathan Wilson, Development Director, Citu

Net Zero Carbon Neighbourhoods
Jacqueline Homan, Head of Environment, West Midlands Combined Authority

15:40 Break
16:00 Session 4: Urbanists towards COP26
David Rudlin, Director, The Academy of Urbanism

Households Declare
Anna Lisa McSweeney, Member of ACAN, Member of Steering Group of Architects Declare, and Arkitekt at White Arkitekter

Presentation and discussion on the role of urbanists in the climate crisis.
16:30 Close

Image of housing by Natesh Ramasamy via Flickr

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