Following on from the 2019 UNECE Glasgow Conference on City Living and events in 2020, The Academy of Urbanism continued its housing series with a conference in October 2021 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.

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.

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, Architects Journal

Housing 2030 - A toolkit for affordable and carbon-friendly housing
Prof. Dr. Holger Wallbaum, Professor in Sustainable Building, Chalmers University of Technology

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)

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

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.

Image of housing by Natesh Ramasamy via Flickr

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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