The Regenerative Neighbourhoods Summit brought together top thinkers on sustainability and net-positive buildings. I provided graphic recording for 2 days. What is graphic recording? I listen deeply to groups, and draw their key ideas in real-time. Think of it as organizing ideas in pictures.
Regenerative buildings is an emerging topic. One of the main questions is if buildings can go beyond ‘green’, or ‘net zero’- can they actually improve the health of people and the environment? If so, how would that work at a neighbourhood level.
For example, the CIRS building at the University of British Columbia goes way beyond any building sustainability measures I’ve seen. It’s connected to a lab building next door, and because of the connectivity, both buildings achieve something they couldn’t on their own: net-positive energy performance.
“By harvesting renewable and waste energy, CIRS is able to supply not only its own energy needs but also a portion of the needs of an adjacent building. The end result is that the addition of a 4-storey, 5675 square meter building to the campus reduces UBC’s overall energy consumption by over 1 million kilowatt hours per year.”
As I listened and drew, I learned architects and planners weave together place and people. And this community is aware that buildings alone can’t solve our problems, it’s also about people.
As the recap on day 2 said: “We’re at a critical moment, if we open ourselves to change.” The group said “environment and people aren’t silos – they become interdependent. We’re learning from others, creating metrics from what matters.”
Attendees said that a powerful tool to get there is using aspirational stories. Stories of hope. Regenerative stories are about achievement, and making things possible. They’re a way to engage, because people (whether we like it or not) want to be part of achievement and something positive.
You can see the connections from the event in the graphic recording images, and the dialogue continues online here, including an opportunity to discuss net-positive buildings at a Vancouver conference in June.