AsianScientist (May. 28, 2021) – Today’s cities are glittering—lit up by looming skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and intricate, geometric domes, like Japan’s Saitama Super Arena. However, the beauty of this built world comes at a stark environmental cost. In 2020, the buildings industry accounted for 35 percent of energy consumption and nearly 40 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.
From clearing out forests for land to using non-renewable energy sources like coal, buildings construction and day-to-day operations leave a huge carbon footprint, eroding global efforts to mitigate climate change. If left unchecked, continued warming and heightened resource depletion will threaten critical sectors like health, food production and overall economic progress.
But such trade-offs don’t have to be the norm. For Professor Jason Pomeroy, built environments can and should be designed for sustainability, taking into consideration a confluence of factors ranging from space to society in their development.
This holistic framework is reflected across his work as the founder of Singapore-based sustainable architecture firm Pomeroy Studio and education provider Pomeroy Academy. To tackle the green agenda on several fronts, the multi-hyphenate’s many roles encompass hosting television shows and holding professorships at the UK’s University of Nottingham and Australia’s James Cook University.
For Pomeroy, sustainable development is an effort that spans timelines—one that involves distilling lessons from the past, designing for present needs and disseminating the relevant principles to future generations. By drawing inspiration from culture and history, he aims to create people-centric environments that readily support the activities of the community, from industrial to recreational settings.
“When we look at heritage architecture, these are the products that have survived the test of time—naturally lit, naturally ventilated, using local sources of materials, being true to rituals and cultural practices,” he shared.
Moreover, Pomeroy injects scientific rigor into his architectural endeavors, making for an approach called evidence-based interdisciplinary sustainable design. The foundation of this approach lies in the numbers, with his team measuring parameters like the coverage of greenery, sunlight intensity and air circulation in each locality.
“The ability to embrace science as a means of molding the building to optimize natural light, optimize natural airflow and study materials allows us to create something that is more environmentally sustainable,” said Pomeroy.
By reducing energy consumption, Pomeroy explained that evidence-based interdisciplinary sustainable design creates the blueprint for zero carbon developments, such as the B House in Bukit Timah, Singapore. Instead of burning through non-renewable energy sources, the bungalow-inspired residence features large window walls that allow natural light to flood in and is fitted with solar panels for generating electricity.
Aside from offsetting energy use, one hallmark of a Pomeroy project is the seamless integration between urban structures and the natural environment, with greenery teeming along hallways and balconies. In increasingly jam-packed cities, Pomeroy’s built environments also create open space through sky gardens atop buildings and courtyards in the middle of bustling landscapes.
As Pomeroy Studio goes global, the local climate directs the architecture, from curved walls shading the deceptively slender, petal-like Tulip Tower in Malaysia to adaptable railed terraces suiting Sweden’s summer and winter weather at the multi-story Candy Factory residence, topped with a wintergarden.
On a larger scale, Pomeroy and his team are further establishing themselves in the master planning arena. In Indonesia, for example, they are developing an incredible 100-hectare educational district, an expanse large enough to fit around 130 soccer fields. Their vision even extends as far as out to sea, placing communities on open water through the Pod Off-Grid project in collaboration with Pomeroy Academy.
At the Pomeroy Academy, researchers and industry professionals alike can pursue online short courses on sustainable design. But making cities livable also requires a paradigm shift from civil society and governments, Pomeroy noted.
As such, he actively engages with the public sphere, authoring books and appearing in conference halls to share ideas on sustainable urbanism. By highlighting the benefits of environmentally conscious design, Pomeroy hopes to encourage more people to recognize the value of going green.
Against a backdrop of climate change, visionaries like Pomeroy are steering the built environment industry to focus on sustainability. They are reimagining what our cities look like, how they operate and how they shape community interactions. By doing so, they can best design living and working spaces to meet the needs of present and future generations without depleting the planet’s resources.
“There is an opportunity through design to shape the future for good,” Pomeroy said. “If you give a good enough reason to do something, you can then inform and be an influencer and hopefully shape the world for better.”
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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