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Top green design predictions for 2016

Published at: 25 January 2016



Some of the world’s foremost eco-llectuals give us the lowdown on what to expect from 2016

Environmental news website InHabitat asked a number of the world’s brightest architecture, design, technology, transportation, and climate science professionals what they think will be the hot topics this year. Here are a few that could help you get through what should be a rollercoaster year:

1. Bill McKibben - Environmentalist, Green Journalist, President and Co-Founder of 350.org

It will be a hot year for the planet, as El Niño lingers for the first months, and for the fossil fuel industry as the #ExxonKnew scandal continues to burgeon.

2. Saul Griffith - Inventor, Founder of Other Lab, Makani, Squid Labs

After realizing the scope of the climate problem in Paris, we’ll finally start having a serious public conversation about Nuclear power. Sadly we’ll continue to develop autonomous cars in the guise of the old cars they are replacing. This means the opportunity to truly reform transit through smaller, lighter, safer, more efficient vehicles will be lost forever. Dozens more awesome electric thingies like the xtracycle, onewheel, Boosted Board, and more will enter the market in droves and millennials will ignore traditional transit solutions in favor of small electric wunder-wheels and a shorter commute.

Steady progress will be made in wind, solar and electric vehicles by good profitable companies and innovative start-ups. Oh yeah, and VW will not do anything nearly satisfactory for the millions of people it screwed by lying about emissions.

3. Tomas Zacek - Partner at Ecocapsule / Nice Architects

Architecture for migration. This should be and, I believe, will be very important topic in 2016. The world needs architecture and design solutions that cover the entire process of migration. Starting with first camps, using movable and temporary architecture, then transitioning to semi-permanent camps and habitats with multiple layers and functions, and ending with housing, work and infrastructure solutions in destination countries. (I see great potential in the regeneration of unused building and areas). Architects throughout the world should start to take this issue seriously, because spring is coming.

4. Gena Wirth - Design Principal at SCAPE

2016 will be a year to test and pilot new strategies for resilient urban infrastructure. As the climates change, our cities and their infrastructural systems must adapt to the challenges of the future – questions of sea level rise, increased precipitation, temperature change, urban development pressure, and social fragmentation and stratification. In New York City, post-Sandy planning efforts led at the federal and local levels are combining to create intelligent pathways toward a new urban ecology; 2016 will be the year to put these theories to the test and learn from the results. New landscape infrastructures are proposed throughout the city, from mitigation marshes and wetland banks to wave-attenuating oyster reefs – what is needed from all is collaboration and in-situ experimentation at all levels and scales to pilot solutions to tomorrow’s threats.

5. Mark Radka - UN Energy, Climate, and Technology Branch Chief

I believe that in 2016 we will see investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy really start to take off. My sense is that companies got out of COP21 the credible signals they wanted, and that we’re approaching a tipping point in perceptions about climate change that will prove to be irreversible

New financing models and further cost reductions will make solar systems even more attractive, and – with favorable state and local policies – they will become the default choice for new home construction in many areas. Along with smart meters, intelligent (and more efficient) appliances, and efficient design this will drive buildings even closer toward net zero energy. Electric vehicles will also become more popular, and when integrated with the energy systems in their owner’s homes will help hasten the transition to a cleaner energy future.

6. Phil Aroneanu - Political Engagement Director and Co-Founder, 350.org

The Paris climate agreement in December set the stage for what will need to be a sprint to shift from a global economy fueled by fossil energy to one powered by 100% renewables. Every country came to the table to make this historic agreement possible, but to keep global temperatures well below 2 ℃, we’re going to need bold movements in every country demanding that we break free from fossil fuels and leave them underground. Keep an eye out for this fossil fuel resistance movement that is poised to change the political debate in the US and across the world.

7. Chris Precht - Founder of Penda

I believe 2016 will be the year of landscape architecture. Cities and their populations are growing and they will need smart strategies to design our narrowing public spaces. Well designed, green spaces are not just a main element of a city’s health and well-being, but also attract residence to an area and increase business for the surroundings. Landscape architects understand the benefits of nature and how to use it to make our cities better.

8. Dayong Sun - Founder of Penda

Not only will it be a good year for landscape architecture, but for landscapes as a whole. Nature is closer to art than our built environment and people will turn towards art, nature and beauty especially in times of increasing climatic changes and environmental pollution.

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