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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

Building To Zero Carbon – Sustainable Construction Pioneer Bill Dunster

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A free video resource from See Through Building

Building, Construction, Architecture & Carbon Drawdown

“We just don’t have very much time. People only react when something bad has already happened. We can do something about it. We don’t have to just wait for events to shape us. We’ve caused the problem, we can also be the solution.”

Bill Dunster, ZedFactory.

These are the words of a leading zero-carbon architect.  

In 2006.

This documentary, originally made by Litmus Films for Japanese public television NHK, features the pioneering work of the British architect Bill Dunster.  

When this documentary was made, the 2005 New Orleans floods were in the news, the housing bubble that led to the 2008 global recession was in full swing, and Dunster had recently completed BedZed.

BedZed was London’s first zero-carbon housing development. It was supposed to be a pilot scheme, testing techniques and theories that would then become standard practice in the construction industry.  

Nearly 20 years on, BedZed remains a quirky anomaly in the south London suburb of Sutton. It’s a Mecca for international architectural students, and loved by its residents, but is still an outlier, a one-off, when it comes to sustainable building practice.

Noddy Boxes, the Construction Lobby and Diluted Regulation  

What Dunster calls ‘Noddy boxes’ are still being built around BedZed. These bog-standard housing developments, based on cookie-cutter models that are barely adapted to their locations at all, can still be seen everywhere. Their energy efficiency ratings, construction standards, and building materials, have barely shifted since Dunster’s urgent clarion call quoted at the start of this article.

Britain is something of an outlier itself in this. Over the past two decades, new building construction in the rest of Europe has shifted substantially towards Dunster’s zero-carbon goal. Many of the visions Dunster sketches out in this film are now entire cities in China, but uptake in the UK and other parts of the world has been sketchy and slow.

Meanwhile, over the same period, parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, have risen from 381 to 423 in 2022.

See Through Building, part of non-profit social media network See Through News, offers this film as a free resource for anyone interested in buildings, and how they relate to the SeeThrough News Goal of: 

Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active.

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