Another successful year for SDCS
2023 marks another successful year for the Sustainable Design China Summit (www.sustainabledesignchina.com/) and builds on last year’s inaugural edition to show how
the design, architecture and commercial industry can come together to make meaningful
change in tackling the climate emergency.
With six key themes running across the Summit, Orianna Fielding, the Chief Sustainability Advisor & Content Director of the Summit opened the three days of thought-leading talks and workshops sharing the message that “Sustainability does not have an end date. We are living in extraordinary times and that our planet, is experiencing unprecedented challenges brought about by rapid shifts in our climate. Climate change is shaping our lives and reshaping our world.”
“I believe that for a leading country in the world, if China takes action in this direction, it will become a guiding light for many other countries,” added Mario Cucinella, Founder and Director, Cucinella Architects. “Sustainability is a global issue, and as humans, we are on a unique planet; we should collectively strive in this direction to save our planet. Therefore, this summit will be very important for the environment because we are discussing the sustainability of the world. This is a very important moment. We are still in an ambitious phase, but the next step will not be more ambition, but action, making changes through practice.”
Prof. EM Dr Wolfgang Feist, Founder, Passive House Institute (PHI), Professor at the University of Innsbruck gave an inspiring talk about the benefits of Passive House design. “It has many advantages and allows for optimal comfort, such as healthy indoor air, and reduces the overall cost of living. It is also a very good solution for our climate protection because energy demand is only a tenth of what it used to be. In this way, we can very easily use renewable energy to meet all the needs in buildings.”
Under the theme of ‘Circular Design Matters’, Dajian Zhu, Director of Institute of Governance for Sustainable Development, Vice Chairman of University Academic Committee at Tongji University in Shanghai spoke about the Circular Economy and its Impact on Peak Carbon Emissions and Carbon Neutrality. Zhu highlighted “Our circular economy design approach needs to encompass four key areas: energy decoupling, industrial decoupling, transportation decoupling, and construction decoupling. Considering the carbon emissions in these domains within China, we understand that the energy transformation into the power supply sector is the primary source of emissions, with industry, transportation, and construction playing vital roles as well. Additionally, we must focus on the entire lifecycle, as emissions occur not only during the operational phase but also throughout the stages of design, material selection, construction, operation, and disposal.”
On day two, the theme ‘On the Path to Net Zero’ speakers reiterated that reaching net-zero operational and embodied carbon emission in the built environment is possible but requires clear and ambitious policies to drive a range of sustainable and effective measures including passive building design, material efficiency, the use of low-carbon materials and smart building technology.
“We all know it's easier said than done; to achieve net zero carbon emissions we need to understand what should be achieved every year until 2050” commented John Haffner, Deputy Director-Sustainability of Hang Lung Properties. “We also need to set short-term, quantifiable goals and achieve intermediate milestones step by step.”
There was a panel session on How to Balance Economic and Ecological Benefits in Zero-energy Building with panellists including Dr Raymond Yau, General Manager, Technical Services and Sustainable Development at Swire Properties. He said, “We really want to apply green and low carbon practices and improve the level of building energy efficiency. Then we need to accelerate the optimisation of building energy consumption. The plan can be accelerated by electrification, which will have a huge impact.”
“While we meet the needs of the present generation, we still must consider some of the resource needs of future generations. We cannot consume all resources at this stage,” said Alwyn Li, Partner, PwC ESG – Sustainable Urban Service during the session on Digital Technology Empowers Net-Zero and Sustainable Building System.
The theme of Towards a Greener Future, held in conjunction with the BRE included a welcome speech from Gary Zhao, General Manager, BRE China who commented, “The development of sustainability has been slow and challenging over the past decade. In a society dominated by consumerism, sustainability seemed to have become more of a decorative concept in product design. However, sustainability is no longer optional; it’s a necessity. It stands as a dynamic, ever evolving concept, shaping our path toward a better future.”
“For brands, a significant challenge lies in whether end consumers are willing to invest in these pricier sustainable products. It’s precisely why transformative innovations often debut in the high-end market; they carry the responsibility of spearheading new consumer behaviours and lifestyles,” added David Schill, Marketing Director, Aritco Lift AB.
Holistic Hospitality was the theme or day three of the summit. Lucky Chan, President, Canbeauty Hotel Group’s China, moderated a session on How Hotels are Blending Design and Technology for a Greener Tomorrow. He said, “A green hotel should not only reduce its environmental impact but also actively enhance guests' experiences, particularly highlighting post-pandemic consumer desires for sustainable and healthy experiences.”
To achieve this often requires extensive groundwork. “In China, every hotel’s construction comes with corresponding benchmarks, which calculate the carbon emissions generated throughout the entire process of building from scratch. During the initial stages of hotel design, we need to consider every aspect of the project and set ambitious targets for minimizing carbon emissions,” said panellist Ivan Chen, Vice President, Hotel Lifecycle & Growth, Greater China, IHG Hotels & Resorts.
Creating the Empathetic Workplace was the final theme of the summit.
With the workplace having changed for good, work can happen anywhere as the empathetic workplace takes hold. Sustainability, agility, co-creation, technology and wellbeing are informing the way in which designers are implementing and responding to these changes.
Qing Ye, Chairman, Shenzhen Institute of Building Research Co Ltd said, “We focus on technological progress with things as the core, which is very good for building energy conservation, maintaining structures, air-conditioning equipment, energy evaluation systems, improving renewable energy, and constantly pursuing sustainable development.”
“A sustainable, people centric office space not only prioritizes mental well-being but also yields long-lasting benefits, offering a distinctive experience for work and life, the essence of true sustainability,” added Pearl Tang, Senior Partner, Foster + Partners.
The Summit also included three special curated projects showcasing innovative ideas around sustainable concept design and material innovations. ‘Materials First’ was an installation by materials Designer and Curator Chris Lefteri who presented 100 different materials from three fascinating categories: Mono materials, Waste, and Bio-materials to explore the limitless possibilities of these materials and their incredible organic connections to mankind.
‘Near & Distant’ was an inspirational exploration of how new media has brought individuals closer together and was organized in collaboration with the Social Innovation and Humanity Design Research Studio from the School of City Design at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and delved into three dimensions: time, space, and events, providing an exclusive platform for emerging design talent to harness leading-edge patterns, mechanisms, and ways of thinking.
Finally, the Finland Pavilion, designed by PES Architectural Design Studio, provided a perfect fusion of sustainability and functionality with several Finnish companies showcasing their products including iittala, SAYYAS, Lunawood, MOOMIN WATER, aarikka, LOVI, PES-Architects, MOI Restaurant and Lounge, muurla. This project was fully supported and co-ordinated by The Embassy of The Republic of Finland in China, The Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, and The Finnish National Agency for Education.
The Summit was accompanied by an exhibition that brought together a broader array of environmentally-conscious products.
This year’s Summit was supported by The Audi Group which was the exclusive top-tier partner, with a commitment to playing a leading role in designing a sustainable future.
“The Audi e-Tron GT presented at the Summit is the perfect combination of breath-taking design, powerful electric drive, sustainable material, and dynamic performance, demonstrating design and sustainability can go hand in hand at Audi,” said Katy Tsang, Audi China Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “From product design, green production and resource reuse, Audi promotes sustainability in a holistic way across the entire value chain.
Praising the show, Mario Cucinella, Founder and Director Cucinella Architects said, “I believe that for a leading country in the world, if China takes action in this direction, it will become a guiding light for many other countries. Sustainability is a global issue, and as humans, we are on a unique planet; we should collectively strive in this direction to save our planet. Therefore, this summit will be very important for the environment because we are discussing the sustainability of the world. This is a very important moment. We are still in an ambitious phase, but the next step will not be more ambition, but action, making changes through practice.”
The next edition of the Sustainable Design China Summit will take place from 19-21 June 2024 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Conference Centre as part of Asia’s leading international design event Design Shanghai and will once again explore the sustainability issues affecting our world today.