Last edited 19 May 2017

FutuREstorative - review

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Martin Brown – ‘FutuREstorative: Working towards a new sustainability

Published by RIBA Publishing (2016)


FutuREstorative: Working towards a new sustainability, written by the consultant Martin Brown, is a worthy addition to the growing corpus of texts debating the problems and solutions facing the built environment and sustainability.

Where this book differs somewhat is in its inclusion of blog-style contributions from a collection of business leaders, advocates and practitioners, from construction and beyond.

Running through the book is the idea that respect and intolerance for causing damage to nature has been lost, as the built environment has gradually eroded our real connection to nature. Key to the book’s theme is the idea of shifting the sustainability debate from focusing simply on energy performance on to a more holistic view of social performance, wellness, health and healthy buildings.

The book posits the concept of ‘net-positive construction’, which asks the question ‘what if every construction site made the world a better place?’; that, instead of being wasteful and emissions-heavy, the construction sector could generate more energy, water and reusable resources than it consumes.

The concepts and benefits of biophilia and biomimicry are explored as methods of learning from and adapting natural processes. It makes the case that best practice and established sustainability standards have all-too-often fallen into the box-ticking ‘doing less bad’ trap, rather than aiming to do good. Innovations such as BIM, the internet of things and social media are seen as new tools in the ‘sustainability toolbox’, providing opportunities to advance the development of, and action on sustainability.

While some may come away frustrated with the solutions on offer, the book serves as a challenge to the limited orthodoxies of contemporary thinking rather than attempting to provide a prescriptive road-map to definite answers.

Students, practitioners and policy makers in the built environment would do well to engage with the challenges and ideas raised by this book, as it is this kind of creative and forward thinking response that will be essential in adapting the built environment to prevent and respond to the uncertainties of climate change.

For more information and to purchase the book, please see RIBA Bookshop.

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