The existing built environment will largely still be in place in 50 years’ time given the current rate of building in New Zealand. The continued development of a fully sustainable built environment will therefore largely involve a retrofit of the existing built environment.
This research document explores different approaches to changing the built environment that could contribute towards true sustainability. There are considerable benefits associated with each, although the scale of the benefits change depending on the approach considered and the timeframe in which it is applied.
This document evaluates each approach in a number of ways, including case study examples, identifying benefits, and examining implementation over a range of time periods – from the short term (five years), through to the extra long term (80+ years).
A number of key messages emerge from the research document:
While there are currently limited real world examples of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative developments, those projects that do exist provide valuable insight into their implementation, and the shortcomings that need to be addressed.
The authors conclude that there are considerable opportunities for central government organisations and others to take New Zealand forward to a more sustainable built environment, to lead by example, and to help develop momentum for adoption of these approaches.
Short-term adoption of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development is required, to produce New Zealand examples and demonstration projects, and to allow people to capitalise on the long-term benefits. This could take several forms. These approaches may be applied to individual projects with the intention that these eventually transform the urban context on a building-by-building, or development-by-development basis. Alternatively, concepts could be applied to neighbourhoods, larger developments, sections of cities, suburbs or potentially new towns to more effectively demonstrate the benefits of a systems-based approach to design, as advocated by proponents of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development.