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Real Estate Sustainability and Beyond

Various topics were being discussed at the Bloomberg CEO Forum, one of which is building sustainable cities for the future. It is no news that efforts have to be made to prepare ourselves for the future, and urban planning is one of it if not the most essential aspect to start with as it includes many components of our lives.


Many interesting initiatives were mentioned in a discussion among real estate development leaders. Most of them include new and innovative technology that will enable us to combat climate change and prepare us for the future of life and work. However, we cannot neglect the enormous number of cities that have already been built throughout history, most of which will not fit the new, sustainable criteria, such as being energy efficient. What shall be done with these cities? Would it be worth demolishing them so we can build newer and more sustainable ones? The experts in this talk gave a clear answer. In fact, taking an old building and retrofitting it strategically and sustainably has a lower impact on the environment than building a new one. This is because, of all carbon associated with an old building, 40% is still retained in the old concrete; demolition would only release more carbon into the environment. Therefore, plans for the future would focus on adaptive reuse for existing cities.


Another interesting discussion was on what needs to be done beyond environmental concerns. When considering sustainable cities, it is not only about environmental and social sustainability but also the continuity of social values within the community. It is essential to preserve these values, so the cities retain their identities. These identities serve as the core for people within the same community to develop and thrive as one. They also enable the city to have its place in the global landscape, attracting economic benefits such as investment and tourism.

Chintan Raveshia, Cities Business Leader of Arup, made an important point when he said that the sole definition of a new and sustainable city is one word: “equitable.” This means that the city should be able to provide equal value in all possible ways for all stakeholders—not only humans but also nature. Challenges around building new cities lie in the vast number of aspects that must be considered, and this is a topic we will likely see discussed more and more as we move toward a more sustainable world.

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