Think to host first international sustainability learning session – Sustainability on four continents

Think will hold the first ever international sustainability learning session on Thursday 8th May. The session, one of the 26 that comprise Think’s conference programme will explore lessons that can be learned from examples of excellence across the globe.

Sustainability in the built environment is a new imperative regardless of geographic location. Whether motivated by morality or concern for profitability, the industry globally is looking for ways to help the planet.

This challenge of ‘going green’ has resulted in radically different solutions across the world. Sustainability on four continents will offer a line-up of experts with successful projects in Europe, America, the Middle East and Asia who will share best practice and innovation in sustainable design, construction and masterplanning. The session will also offer a detailed run through of the world’s most ambitious sustainable projects.

Continental lessons
Monica von Schmalensee, director of White Arkiteketer, one of Scandinavia’s biggest and most influential architectural practices, will discuss her companies environmental approach to design and creating sustainable communities. The firm worked on the landmark Hammarby Sjöstad Development in Stockholm but Monica’s session will also offer an insight into upcoming projects, such as a major new hospital and new office and housing schemes in its native Sweden as well as in Poland.

Continental lessons part 2 – The Austrian renewable experiment
Bruck an der Leitha is a small town near Vienna which has prospered significantly from a number of renewable energy initiatives. In an attempt to generate 100% of its renewable energy from renewables, a not–for-profit organisation was set up as a primary driver for three renewable energy technologies (biogas CHP, biomass heating and a wind park) and an MSc course in “Renewable energy in Central and Eastern Europe” has been made available. The renewable energy plants are owned and run by local people which has resulted in the generation of around 30 jobs. Gottfried Pschill of Energiepark Bruck an der Leitha will provide an overview of the system and a UK-based renewables expert, Steffie Broer of ESD will offer lessons that can be learnt from such an inspirational example.

Lessons from America
One of the UK’s most influential architects, Bill Taylor, MD of Hopkins Architects will offer a unique insight into his company’s work in America. The firm’s work in the US includes the Northern Arizona University’s Applied Research and Development Building, which was recently awarded LEED platinum status, one of the highest environmental accolades available in North America.

Asian Exemplar
Malcolm Smith, Head of Integrated Urbanism at ARUP will discuss his experiences of key projects includeing Dongtan Eco-city where ARUP provided the sustainable masterplan for a 8400ha development near Shanghai.

Middle East masterclass
The major challenges facing design teams working in challenging climates and conditions will be assessed by Metropolitan Architects, a major up and coming UK architectural practice. The firm is working on a far-reaching plan in Jordan looking at the Dead Sea area, which the government wants to turn into an exemplar for sustainable development. The firm examines how development can be controlled by and technology harnessed to ensure a viable long term future for areas facing rapid population growth, increasing water shortage and little by the way of natural resources.

Prashant Kapoor, Associate Director of WSP will provide a detailed run through of one of the world’s most ambitious sustainable projects, Masdar, the zero waste zero energy city planned for Abu Dhabi. As a key consultant working on the project he will run through the water, waste, energy and transport strategy as well as the passive design principles employed.

Think is an event underpinned by the latest thinking on urban policy and will discuss the issues that impact directly upon the way in which the built environment operates. Think very much captures the spirit of our times and will help to guide the future direction of the property and construction industry as it aims to meet the demands of our changing business climate.

The full conference programme is available online at