The Materials Book

206 Cities as Ecosystems and Buildings as Living Organisms Christoph Küffer The building industry is a major driver of environmental destruction, responsible for 40 percent of global energy consumption and one of the main agents of anthropogenic climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims we must reach net- zero CO 2 emissions around 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change. Construction uses huge amounts of rapidly depleted materials such as gravel, sand, steel, wood, and water. Moreover the way in which we build cities encourages a resource-intensive lifestyle. Despite the urgent need for a radical reversal in material consumption rates, more than a doubling of annual demand for new materials is projected for the world’s cities in the next few decades, thus eliminating potential gains in energy and material efficiency. As a consequence we must rapidly transform urbanization and construction. Such a transformation might depend on four pillars: the end of growth, inclusive and equitable development, a circular economy, and the regeneration of social and natural capital to facilitate a transition toward a post-growth society. An inclusive and equitable development grants basic human needs and rights, such as food, water, health, peace, education, freedom and equality, dignity, social participation, and culture, to all citizens of the planet rather than fulfilling the false demands of an affluent minority. A circular economy must be built entirely on recycling, reuse, and upcycling, making such modes of production and consumption the norm, not the exception, and we must develop ways of material extraction, consumption, and reuse that regenerate rather than destroy natural