Sustainable cities and communities is goal number 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and it aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and lasting.
For us, the SDGs provide a framework for guiding social, environmental and economic progress. Through our projects and operations, we directly contribute to seven SDGs. These are: good health and wellbeing (SDG3); quality education (4); clean water and sanitation (6); affordable and clean energy (7); industry, innovation and infrastructure (9); sustainable cities and communities (11); and climate action (13).
But, because the goals are highly interdependent, progress on one will affect all or some of the others. So, a solar array isn’t wholly about generating electricity and flood defences protect a community from more than water. It’s all about making connections, challenging assumptions, and turning potential benefits into value-adding outcomes.
This means creating great Places for people can contribute indirectly to many SDGs, including:
Goal 3 Good health and wellbeing
More and better spaces to enable exercise and encourage being outdoors, aid physical and mental health, while significantly less traffic improves air quality and pedestrian/cyclists’ safety and reduces noise. Designing buildings and facilities with good air flow and few touchpoints, and using infection resistant materials, for example, will help make communities more resilient to future pandemics.
Goal 6 Clean water and sanitation
Nature-based solutions can protect, manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems. Urban wetlands can capture and clean stormwater to replenish the underground aquifer, while sustainable drainage systems help reduce pollution in rivers and provide protection against flooding.
Goal 7 Affordable energy
Solar panels in roofs, windows or façades can generate power and state-of-art building management systems reduce energy load. Energy-efficient buildings minimise the need for space heating and cooling, making the best economic use of resources and keeping bills low for consumers.
Goal 8 Economic growth
New developments are often the catalyst for economic and social transformation, delivering new infrastructure and facilities that provide jobs and boost local economies, and more efficient transport links to access employment and training opportunities further afield. Factory-built, modular buildings and components allow manufacturing to take place where it makes the most sense, economically and on a human level.
Goal 9 Industry innovation and infrastructure
Digital tools help to speed up project design, decision making, development and delivery and the operation of assets. Better and more extensive use of asset data gives asset owners and operators better insights into its condition and performance, enabling them to make better interventions that produce better outcomes for people and communities.
Goal 10 Reduced inequalities
Inclusivity means new neighbourhoods are designed for a range of people, from apartments for single and young adults to family homes and housing for the elderly and those with special needs. Mixed and balanced communities foster social diversity, redress social exclusion and strengthen a collective sense of responsibility for, and identity with, the neighbourhood.
Goal 12 Responsible consumption and production
Building information modelling (BIM) combined with offsite and modular construction improves the quality of buildings and their components, delivering developments faster and significantly reducing material waste and whole-life carbon.
Goal 13 Climate action
Carbon emissions are reduced by designing and constructing buildings and infrastructure using resources more efficiently, employing new materials and techniques, and designing them for long life, with adaptation, recovery and reuse in mind. Existing buildings and infrastructure is retrofitted to achieve step changes in energy efficiency, employing digital technologies alongside physical upgrades. Nature-based solutions designed to encourage biodiversity and work with natural systems, helps build resilience to the physical impacts of climate change.
Goal 17 Partnerships for the goals
Working in partnership with our clients and the communities is how we operate. It’s the only way to ensure our cities remain places people want to be … and everyone has the opportunity to thrive.