The construction and built environment industries need to strongly consider creative solutions, like integrating regenerative design principles, when designing and building facilities, global consulting company Mott MacDonald regenerative design head Amanda Sturgeon has said.
Regenerative design is a process-oriented whole systems approach to design and the term ‘regenerative’ describes processes that restore, renew or revitalise their own sources of energy and materials, she explained.
Speaking during this year’s virtual Green Building Convention on October 29, Sturgeon said that, through regenerative design, “[the world] could right its relationship with nature by transforming the built environment in a way that ensures that buildings function in harmony with the natural world”.
“If we have a thriving city and community, it will depend on addressing issues around poverty and gender equity, for example. Even though we, as designers, architects or urban designers and developers may not think that is in our purview, it will be,” she commented.
Sturgeon lamented, however, that the world was “stuck in a place of sustainability” as improved building codes, energy, water, efficiency, health and wellness and reducing carbon remain top of mind.
“While they’re all fantastic initiatives, what they don’t do is allow us to create the solutions to global climate change, biodiversity loss and the disruption of nature fast enough. What we really have to do is repair our relationship with nature and we have to consider that anything we do to nature, in any of the things that we build, is going to have an impact on our own ability to thrive and survive,” she explained.
This means that regenerative design is “the ultimate goal” of where the construction and built environment industry is going, as it needs to regenerate and create positive outcomes with the projects that are created, which involves a few different steps.
Currently, there is a focus on sustainability, efficiency, environment protection and wellness, and while these concepts all “get tied up” with compliance and ratings systems, Sturgeon noted that, ultimately, what needs to be done, is to “integrate regenerative thinking into the actual design processes” and design differently, while changing the priorities that are being designed with.
She further advised designers to “look at nature for inspiration on ecological solutions” and “bring a balance between humans and nature in the built environment world” that is being created.
She urged the construction and built environment industries to consider this integrated approach when looking to address global challenges, considering that parties often isolate solutions and “compartmentalize climate solutions into energy, health, equity, and water [which then leads to] solutions often conflicting with each other and having unintended consequences on eco-systems or human health”.
This means that future solutions, and future buildings, will need to combine nature, people and design in order to repair the human-nature connection, which will “allow people and nature to thrive together”.