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Toward a better environment

With the world population growing very fast and predicted to continue growing at the same pace in the future (see figure 1). The question is: what are the plans for housing in the future? And What is the impact of such plans on the environment?

See figure 1 bellow to explain the population growth.

Figure 1 :


As humans we and the environment create a full cycle. In other words, we impact the environment and by the same token the quality of the environment around us affects us and many generations to come directly or indirectly, as we can see in figure 2. The impact of climate stability, global eco-system and biodiversity seep through all aspects of human life and wellbeing.

Figure 2 : by Barton and Grant


The other day we were shown in the lecture a thought-provoking image (Figure 3) that got us to think how little the change is in the house construction industry? We are not only looking here at the very little change to the shape and design, but more importantly the little improvement made regarding insolation, the energy efficiency as a result, the building materials, building methods and the adaptability of the the buildings to their environment.

Figure 3: by John Devlin’s lecture

Other industries like car manufacturing moved from Diesel to fully electric in a relatively short period. Food industry, technology industry and many more are moving in a fast pace toward using more recyclable material and producing less waste. So, the only industry that is making a very slow progress in this aspect is the building and construction while it continues to produce a vast amount of waste as the Construction Products Association (CPA) uncovered:

“In the UK, construction and maintenance of our built environment, our homes, offices, schools, roads, railways etc, uses up the greatest volume of material resources and also represents the largest waste flows by tonnage. Though in England and Wales over 90% of this is recovered mainly for use as aggregate. However, five million tonnes of construction and demolition waste still finds its way to landfill.”

Let’s not forget about the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the construction industry in the United Kingdom (UK) as figure 4 shows huge amount (in 1,000 metric tons) generated between 1990 and 2020.


Figure 4 from

Ian Tiseo, ‘CO2 emissions from the construction industry in the UK 1990-2020’ (Jul 11, 2022- states:

The United Kingdom’s construction industry produced approximately 11.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020. This was a a reduction of about 11 percent from the previous year and accounted for roughly three percent of the total UK carbon dioxide emissions that year.


Towards better environment:

When it comes to the environmental challenge the construction industry needs to catch up with the other industries, which made significant investments and commitments to improving their environmental credential. The main three areas that the construction industry need work on are: first, improving the buildings energy efficiency to reduce waste and costs. This means using more efficient insolation materials and techniques. Second, using sustainable materials for construction which may include the use of recyclable materials or repurposing the existing building materials, i.e., giving it a second life. Third, ensuring that the expansion of cities to create more accommodations is not at the cost of the green spaces, i.e., any building development should also include its green apace to reach a long-term vision for greener cities.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509