Press release: the Future of Tall Buildings

journalists writing in notepads

Are Tall Buildings sustainable now? And can they become more sustainable in future?

Tall buildings require greater carbon emissions during construction than low-rise buildings

However the associated carbon emissions for people living in tall buildings can be lower

Embargo: 27 April 7pm

I would like to invite you to a Gresham lecture on the Future of Tall Buildings by Roger Ridsdill Smith, Senior Partner, Head of Structural Engineering, Foster + Partners. 

In this lecture Roger Ridsdill Smith will ask whether tall buildings are sustainable given the current climate crisis.

He will say that tall buildings are sustainable now given the carbon savings that they can make in reduced private transport, and in shared heating and cooling: “Tall buildings enable urban density at which point public transport becomes economically viable, and local travel distances become shorter, permitting walking and cycling. The decrease in carbon emissions from shared heating and cooling, and above all the reduction in private transport, overrides the increase in carbon emissions from building tall. And the benefits of density, of people living and working in close proximity, are substantial for the economy of a country.”

In the lecture he will describe the early history of skyscrapers, and explain the circumstances that led to an explosion in the construction of tall buildings in the late nineteenth century. He will show how technology underpins the design of contemporary tall buildings with some examples by Foster + Partners. 

Presenting research findings from external sources as well as work carried out by Foster + Partners, he will look at the relationship between carbon footprint and the densities of development, examining the implications this has for building heights. 

And he will go on to discuss some of the ways in which we can make constructing tall buildings more carbon efficient, from reusing existing structures to recycling materials from buildings that we remove, and using lower carbon construction materials.


Notes to Editors

You can sign up to watch the hybrid lecture online or in person; or email us for an embargoed transcript or speak to the lecturer: / 07799 738 439

Read more about Roger Ridsdill Smith

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