We now live in the age of the city. More than half of the world’s people live in urban areas, and by 2050 it will be more like 70 percent. At the same time, we are using natural resources 1.5 times faster than the world can replenish itself. With city living set to continue rising, climate change and resource scarcity challenges are only going to increase.
One of the key challenges is to make existing buildings in cities more energy efficient, more water efficient and more renewable, using solutions ranging from the simple – such as insulation – to the more advanced, such as clean energy, building management systems and water recycling measures.
At the same time, if new buildings are not greener than what went before, it simply won’t work – and governments around the world need to continue to introduce new rules to make sure that they are greener than before.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) predicts that by 2050, 90 percent of buildings will be zero net energy, and fewer than six percent of buildings will use fossil fuels for heating or cooling. But it is about more than just the buildings on their own – city dwellers need not just smart buildings but smart cities, with smart grids, and smart transport networks.
As developers and city planners grapple with these trends and challenges, they are increasingly looking to their suppliers to help tackle them. At AkzoNobel we are working to meet these needs through astrategy focused on radical resource efficiency. An approach we call Planet Possible – our commitment to doing more with less.
Resource efficiency for us is not only about reducing waste. It’s about working in collaboration with customers and suppliers to reduce impact across the whole value chain. It’s about using more renewable energy and raw materials where possible and developing new products that can help customers do the same to make a positive influence on society.
But companies can still do more. For example, at AkzoNobel we have expertise in the field of life cycle assessment and circular economy models, and we believe that by sharing this knowledge we can play an even greater role in making our cities more sustainable.
Taking this further, we believe that companies can and should share their knowledge and expertise in an open way with mayors, architects, urban planners and other urban opinion formers. By working in collaboration we have the opportunity to rethink our city environments and ultimately make them more liveable.
At AkzoNobel we have a long history of providing innovative products that make the world a better place. But we know there are times when we need to work with others to find those breakthrough innovative solutions. This thinking not only forms part of our Planet Possible approach to sustainability but also contributes to our Human Cities initiative to create more liveable cities.