The Economy of Sustainable Construction: Proceedings of the Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction 2013

392 393 We need to shift the focus of the debate around sustainability to defining what’s sufficient for us. In India, two square meters per person is currently the standard for housing; the Indian government wants to increase that to four. In Germany, the standard is 42 square meters per person and it’s steadily increasing. There’s a rebound effect; the energy savings associated with the reduction of energy consumption per square meter—in Germany, about 40 percent over the last 30 years—are offset by the increase in living space of a typical German or central European. The result is that the consumption of energy is still the same. I was shocked when I saw the design for the total redevelopment of the Bhendi Bazaar, a bustling but dilapidated neighborhood in South Mumbai. The development is being undertaken and funded by Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, an institution created by the Dawoodi Bohras. This religious subgroup of the Ismaili Shia branch of Islam is strongly rooted in Bhendi Bazaar. The community-based redevelopment project involves razing 281 old buildings, concentrated on eighteen acres, and building high rises in their place. Seeing this, I realized that the mistakes made all over the world in the 1960s and ’70s are going to be repeated: neighborhoods that, although they had problems, were basically functioning well, were bulldozed, and we replaced community culture and commerce, the lifeline of many neighborhoods, with monotonous high rises. The client had a list of about fifteen internationally renowned Western planning firms that supported and contributed to the design. Having seen this process fail in the West, these firms should know better than to try it in India—I would call that ethical corruption. Nirmal Kishnani: Integrity is important as a counterpoint to the global economy, in particular the integrity of stakeholders who shape buildings and cities. The way we define integrity and the common good affects how we see ourselves as agents of change and will influence our actions. This discussion of values and action—as the outcomes of integrity—needs to be complemented by concrete proposals that address the magnitude and the pace of the changes occurring today. We have 20,000 migrants moving to Asian cities every day, which translates to roughly 100,000 new homes needed every year. That’s not counting the people who are already living in cities with inadequate housing. This is a serious problem— and a rapidly accelerating one—that many discussions of sustainability simply fail to address. Soiron: Proponents of sustainable development have put forth a variety of approaches to housing. They understand the need to sustainably address the rapid urbanization ongoing around the world, both in order to lower the impact of the built environment on the natural environment and to improve living conditions. What solutions have emerged that, in your mind, are able to address these challenges? Kishnani: Various solutions have emerged. The first is letting the marketplace drive transformation. However, we’ve seen in the last ten or fifteen years that the market is not doing enough. With all due respect to the Indian Green Building Council, certifying a few hundred buildings in more than twelve years is not enough. 3 The greening of our built environment needs to keep up with the pace of urbanization. The second solution involves governments acting as agents of change. Speak to anyone from Asia, however, and you will hear

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